We're not alone dealing with the supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. It started with factories shutting down or reducing production at the beginning of the pandemic as many workers were falling ill with the coronavirus.
Then many moved to working from home and suddenly the home improvement industry skyrocketed. We've seen everything from new office furniture and exercise equipment to full on home renovations. We were suddenly in our homes for a much longer time than normal and finally got the chance to enjoy them! This increase in purchasing caused industries like the office furniture and exercise equipment factories to ramp up production to meet demand.
Now enter the shortage of shipping containers. At the beginning of the pandemic there was a huge push to ship personal protective equipment all over the world. These goods mainly came from China and went to ports that normally don't ship goods back to China. So the containers essentially got stuck in places like West Africa, empty, with no use. This caused the price of shipping to skyrocket as the competition was fierce to use a container. This also pushed some goods off the ship causing even further delays.
In North America, the amount of vessels is overwhelming the ports and some have to wait days docked out in the ocean to come in to unload. Once they are able to unload, there are delays with truck drivers and dockworkers as there aren't enough workers.
The Biden administration expanded working hours at ports to 24/7 in an attempt to get more goods and materials distributed in a timely fashion. We hope that helps but we are still hearing complaints from exhausted delivery drivers and trucking companies that their is simply more than they can handle.
With all of this said, we have seen a large lead time or overall unavailability of paper and foil used on our products. We plan ahead and are one of the lucky small businesses that has some storage to keep our materials. We also keep a large inventory of finished products that are ready to ship out. However, we don't know how long this supply chain issue will go on. We feel for our fellow small businesses like restaurants that are having trouble sourcing things like gloves for their kitchen staff.
With the shopping season among us, we encourage everyone to try to shop with small businesses. Read more about getting your orders to you in my blog, 3 Problems with Sending Gifts Through the Mail.