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Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach congestion hit toy companies hard

Press Telegram – Shipping

Around this time last year, Aeromax Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sean Schipper could count on getting his toy products shipped from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to his Lake Barrington, Ill., business in seven to 10 days.

But because of recent congestion at the twin ports, it’s taking twice as long — or in some cases three times as long — to get merchandise delivered to the toy wholesaler, which does nearly $5 million in annual gross sales selling children’s costumes and toys.

“We’re feeling the pinch here,” Schipper said, adding that the fourth quarter is the company’s busiest time of the year because of the holidays. “Each single day (of delay) costs us money and loss of sales.”

The delays also affect the retailers and e-retailers for which Aeromax provides its products.

“We’re unable to provide accurate arrival data to our customers, and we can’t give them that because of the unknown factors,” Schipper said. “And that causes strains on the business-to-business relationship when we can’t provide accurate delivery information.”

Nationally, the toy industry is feeling the effects of bottlenecks at the twin ports, where containers sit around waiting to be delivered all over the U.S.

The delays — due to the lack of available chassis to unload containers, the long truck wait times and continued uncertainty over the labor talks between West Coast longshore workers and their employers — come at the peak of the holiday shipping season, making it tough for toy companies to fill their orders in time for the holidays.

“The toy industry is one of many industries being impacted by congestion at the ports,” said Ed Desmond, executive vice president of external affairs at the Toy Industry Association. “Continued delays in delivering product to retail would cause a widespread loss of critical holiday sales and a significant blow to the U.S. economy.”

According to the association, more than 3 billion toys are sold in the U.S. each year, resulting in roughly $22 billion in direct retail toy sales. Half of the industry’s $22 billion annual sales are generated during the fourth quarter holiday shopping season, specifically in late November and December.

More than 80 percent of those toy companies are small businesses such as Aeromax, which employs seven full-time employees, and Cloud b, a Gardena-based toy company that specializes in products that help children sleep better.

Cloud b, which employs 48 people, has been feeling the pain of delays. There have been delays of two to three weeks after its goods have cleared customs because containers aren’t accessible.

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