Dec 7, 2021 - Economy & Business

Holiday goods on stalled ships will likely never make it in time

Picture of several container ships at sea
Container ships moored off the Port of Long Beach on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Port congestion in Southern California appears to have changed little over the last week.

Driving the news: The total number of container ships at anchor or loitering within 40 miles of Los Angeles and Long Beach dropped to 35 Monday, down from a peak of 86 on Nov. 16, according to data from the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Yes, but: The nonprofit organization, which helps facilitate activity for four major ports, put a new queuing system in place last month to push awaiting ships further off-coast in an effort to cut emissions and improve maritime safety.

  • There are 59 “loitering or slow-speed-steaming” container ships outside the new Safety and Air Quality Area, for a total of 94 ships backed up (down from 96 on Friday).

Why it matters: Holiday goods still sitting on boats will likely never make it in time.

  • Now, companies that may have over-ordered in response to supply chain constraints risk facing an inventory glut come January.

What we're watching: Which retailers get caught with oversupply.

  • "Nobody wants to write down inventory after Christmas," Jaime Katz, a senior equity analyst for Morningstar, tells Axios.
  • Holiday Barbies, for example, are not going to sell for full price after the holidays.
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