Shopping early for the holiday season is generally a good rule of thumb, but it may be more important this year as global supply breakdowns cause delays for Whatcom County retailers. Retailers interviewed for this article report that while they already have most of their holiday inventory — around 60% to 80% in some cases — getting those final few orders as well as replenishing things that sell out will be challenging this year. Bellingham residents can regularly look out on the bay to see one issue: This summer and fall there has usually been one or two huge container ships waiting for a chance to unload goods from Asia and Mexico at Seattle area ports. The COVID-19 pandemic has also done a number in other parts of the supply chain, including the manufacturing sector.
According to an article in Business Insider, the disruptions are expected to get worse before it gets better because there is no clear solution on working out all the kinks in the supply chain system. One of the weakest links, according to the article, is “an alarming shortage of truck drivers” that has left ports swamped with shipping containers.