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Retail Importers Hope to See Solutions to Local Port Container Congestion Problems


The congestion at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports has been going on for at least two months, but no one expected it to last this long, and no one anticipates an immediate fix – gridlocked docks possibly threatens holiday season. By Deborah Belgum

For nearly two weeks now, Ram Kundani has been waiting to receive seven cargo containers filled with tops, sweaters and dresses shipped from Bangladesh, China and Indonesia to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  But some 10 days after their arrival, the containers on Oct. 21 were still stacked on container vessels as gridlocked docks made it difficult to unload the big metal boxes.

“The problem is, once they are off the boats, who knows when we will get them,” he said, noting that after the goods are unloaded, they are difficult to extract from the docks because there are so many cargo containers stacked up, one behind the other.

Kundani said his retail clients, who are department stores and discount stores across the country, have been sympathetic because just about every apparel importer bringing goods through the West Coast ports is experiencing the same problem. But as the holiday shopping season approaches, retailers are getting nervous and will start to discount goods to clear them out before the season ends.

The discounted price, called markdown money, chips away at the total price apparel manufacturers ultimately are paid for their goods. “The majority of my things were to be delivered by Sept. 30,” said Kundani, who has worked for nearly 40 years at Los Angeles–based B. Boston & Associates, where he is now the vice president. He estimates he could lose at least $2 million or more. “By now the retailers should have these goods in their warehouses because it takes a month to get them from the warehouse to the stores. This is the worst I have ever seen it.”

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