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New Tally Shows the LA Port Ship Logjam is Longer Than Ever

Supply chain issues are still not settled. What to make of it?
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Wait Time Hits New Record

Despite the fact that merchants say they are well-stocked for Christmas, the Logjam Stretching Far Into Pacific Is Longer Than Ever.

The number of container ships headed for the busiest U.S. port complex has risen to close to 100 under a new counting method, underscoring the magnitude of the economy-restraining logjam that the Biden administration is trying to help alleviate.

The backup outside the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, involves 96 container carriers, up from 86 on Nov. 16, when a new queuing system took effect and dozens of arriving ships stayed outside the official area to be counted, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. The revised measure released late Friday includes those eastbound vessels farther out in the Pacific.

Just when it looked like the bottleneck was easing -- the previous official tally was 41 ships in the queue as of Thursday -- the latest numbers confirm that the most visible symbol of the U.S.’s overwhelmed supply chains is still likely months away from being cleared. The average wait for ships was 20.8 days as of Friday, almost a week longer than a month ago, according to the L.A.’s Wabtec Port Optimizer.

Walmart Raises Forecast and Says Shelves Are Stocked for Holiday Shoppers

On November 16, the WSJ reported Walmart Raises Forecast and Says Shelves Are Stocked for Holiday Shoppers

“We gained market share in grocery in the U.S., and more customers and members are returning to our stores and clubs,” said Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon in a news release Tuesday. He said that Walmart has enough products to serve customers over the holiday season. “Customers continue to move away from early pandemic behaviors,” Mr. McMillon said on a call with analysts.

Some of the biggest U.S. retailers, including Walmart, Home Depot Inc. and Target Corp., have chartered their own cargo ships to sidestep congestion at U.S. ports.

“Our scale has benefited us,” Home Depot Chief Financial Officer Richard McPhail told The Wall Street Journal. Besides chartering ships, Mr. McPhail cited the ability to use Home Depot’s cavernous stores to facilitate deliveries, and to negotiate with shipping carriers and trucking firms for lower rates. “Scale matters, they can count on our volume so it’s an advantage.”

Walmart said it had more products flowing through its supply chain this quarter than the same period last year when pandemic demand for some products strained supply. U.S. inventory rose 11.5% in the quarter as “preparation for an expected strong holiday season,” the company said.

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If stores are well stocked, what do we make of a record 96 container ships off the California coast with a 21 day average wait?

On top of that factoid, Christmas is only 19 days away. 

Even if these ships to port, there is no way the late-arrival merchandise makes it to stores in time for Christmas.  

What to Make of It? A Q&Q Not Q&A

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