Shipping Delays, What To Know About The Chaos Around The Industry

Chaos In The Shipping Industry Is Messing Everything Up

Crane lifting up container in yard
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On any given day, it’s a game of Russian roulette when I roll up to the Starbucks drive-thru. A caramel macchiato? They’re out of caramel. An iced decaf americano with an obnoxious amount of Splenda? They only have stevia. Strawberries and cream fraps for the girls? Well, they don’t have any cold cups, and they can’t give them a pink drink because they’re out of strawberry something or other.

I know, I know, first-world problems. Coffee lovers of the world might understand this pain, but no, it’s not the end of the world. But still, what’s the deal with? Apparently it’s got a lot to do with shipping delays and shortages.

Ah, yes. The event of which we do not speak (that is still not over, FYI) is to blame. If 2020 was the year of surviving the COVID, 2021 is the year of blaming the pandemic. First, no one wanted to buy anything except toilet paper and disinfectant. But about a year and a half in, people decided enough was enough. Back to the stores they went in mass numbers compared to the same time last year, and y’all retailers were not ready. As everything in life goes, it wasn’t just one thing that went wrong. It was a series of events. 

What’s Up With the Pause and Delay?

First, goods weren’t being shipped because the demand wasn’t there (unless, of course, it was TP). However, once stimulus payments started coming through, consumers realized if they had to be stuck in the house, they may as well use the extra time wisely and shop. Because you know, two-day prime shipping. Once the demand rose, there was the issue of how to get your goods to us. And no, I’m not talking about not having enough delivery drivers, though that was an issue too. (Y’all are the real MVPs!)

Because goods hadn’t been shipped, and the ships that carry those goods were parked all over the place, it took time to get back out to sea, over the river and through the woods to pick up the goods. And of course, with tons of ships trying to get here and there all at the same time, there were major traffic delays. Remember the Ever Given fiasco on the Suez Canal in early 2021? 

According to Cameron Williams, an official at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, “The pandemic exacerbated longstanding problems with the nation’s supply chain.”Basically, what Cameron is saying, there aren’t enough containers, and ships that have them, aren’t moving fast enough.

How This Impacts Your Bottom Line

Alistair Berg/Getty

The worst of it isn’t having to wait months upon months to receive that new couch you ordered. Nor was it about having to put off home renovations you had planned to pass the pandemic time away. Unlike what Jessie J would have you believe, it is all about the money money money. 

The cost of shipping has dramatically increased, and that increase has to made up somewhere. What better place than the price you pay for the items being shipped? It’s basic supply and demand. We demand our daily dose of caffeine from Starbucks, and they supply us with coffee beans coming from Latin America, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. But it’s going to take longer for them to receive them, and it’s going to be more expensive. According to CNBC, only a few months ago in April we already saw the highest price spikes due to inflation since 2008. 

Of course, coffee is the least of some people’s worries. My brother and his wife were only able to complete half their home renovations planned for this summer because of the delay and the insane spike in the price of lumber. My sister-in-law just finally received the furniture she ordered back in October of 2020. Everyone has a story, but the worst part is, this isn’t even considered the shipping industry’s busiest time of year. 

As a heads up, according to Planet Money, the peak season for shipping actually starts in August. Because you know, school is approaching, which will swiftly blur into holiday shopping before you know it. Is it just me, or does the whirlwind that is September through the New Year are only a hop, skip, and a jump away from our front door?

All good things come to those who wait

I know it’s not easy to be patient. Especially when you’ve waited forever to get new furniture, complete a home renovation, or just get your morning caffeine fix. Trust me, I know. But don’t be rude AF and obnoxious.

It’s not like your barista or salesperson is personally responsible for fetching your goods from the respective country or region of origin. Nor is it within their control to magically make your items appear on demand. I mean yes, coffee is like magic, but not that kind of magic.

In the grand scheme of things, having to wait for a little (or a lot) longer for things we want but don’t necessarily need is annoying, but it’s also not the end of the world. If the past year has shown us anything it’s that patience, community, and understanding can go a long way. So keep calm, and caffeine on, no matter where you get your coffee from.