Severe backlogs at Chinese ports are threatening disruptions in electronics, appliances, furniture, and toys just as the retail industry prepares for its peak holiday shipping season in August.
Yantian, a port about 50 miles north of Hong Kong, handles goods that would fill 36,000 20-foot containers every day. It was shut down for nearly a week late last month after infections were found among dock workers. While the port has reopened, it is still operating below capacity, creating a huge backlog of containers waiting to leave and ships waiting to dock.
As of last Thursday (17th June 2021) , more than 50 container vessels were still waiting to dock in Guangdong’s Outer Pearl River Delta, according to Refinitivdata. To put that in perspective, that’s the biggest backlog since 2019.The snag in operations in Yantian alone is concerning. The port has been unable to handle some 357,000 20-foot container loads since late May due to Covid 19 lockdowns, according to a recent estimate by Lars Jensen, CEO of Danish consultancy Vespucci Maritime. That’s more than the total volume of freight impacted by the six-day closure of the Suez Canal in March. It is hoped that the port should resume normal service in July. If not, it might be a good idea to start your Christmas shopping now.
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