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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The world’s shipping chaos is pushing mega-retailers to make new investments: their own cargo ships.

Why it matters: It’s one way big companies are trying to circumvent the pandemic-fueled supply chain crisis that’s left store shelves sparse.

What’s happening: Home Depot and Walmart are among those chartering vessels in the mad dash to get stuff from overseas.

  • "We have a ship that's solely going to be ours and it's just going to go back and forth … 100% dedicated to Home Depot," the company’s COO said.
  • Merchants are "chartering vessels specifically for Walmart goods," though some items are still out of stock more than usual, CFO Brett Biggs told investors last week.

The intrigue: Chartering a vessel can cost around $40,000 per day, per one estimate cited by NBC News — in other words, a rounding error for corporate giants.

  • Some transportation service companies are expanding offerings for chartering vessels in response "to high demand from existing retail customers," NBC reports.

But it’s likely not an option for smaller shops. That may make it more difficult for them to compete, at a time when pandemic pains have faded faster for bigger players.

One reason: Most other retailers aren’t bringing in nearly enough merchandise to fill a vessel — something that makes it economical for their giant counterparts.

  • “For most other companies, this mismatch makes chartering vessels economically out of reach,” says Nate Herman, a policy executive at trade group American Apparel & Footwear Association.

Go deeper

Apparel makers' new supply problem

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New COVID lockdowns in Vietnam are creating supply problems for some well-known U.S. brands.

Why it matters: Big retailers have reported healthy demand from consumers, even amid elevated levels of COVID infections in recent weeks. The main challenge hindering sales has been limited supply.

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.