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Retailers see heavy holiday shipment delays at L.A/Long Beach ports


Shipping containers are being delayed for up to three weeks, threatening timely holiday goods delivery to retailers, due to a dearth of transportation equipment and possible labor slowdowns at the the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The delays are affecting retailers including JC Penney Co, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Carter’s, according to three people with inside knowledge of the situation. Retail giant Wal-Mart recently diverted 300 TEUs to Oakland to avoid the bottlenecks, one source said. Wal-Mart declined to comment.

The chassis shortage is one main reason for the chronic delays, and the National Retail Federation cited protracted labor talks as another issue. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union wouldn’t comment about whether the negotiations had a hand in the delays at the Southern California ports.

Most retailers said there were delays at the ports for shipments from Asia, but also that they did not expect product shortages during the holidays. But any delay in the supply systems can cost retailers more money.

“It’s a domino effect,” said Nate Herman, vice president of international trade at the American Apparel and Footwear Association. “When there is an interruption, things degenerate quickly.”

Many retailers ordered holiday shipments early in case the labor negotiations went south, but big volume is also arriving this month, considered the end of the holiday shipping season.

“There will be a scramble to restock shelves this holiday season,” said Mark Hirzel, president of the Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association. “The delays are running into two to three weeks.”

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