With products stuck in US ports, metro stores working on ‘Plan B’ as holidays approach

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia retailers are trying to navigate supply chain shortages as ships remain stagnant in U.S. ports waiting to unload their containers full of goods.

Many metro stores are worried they won’t have products in time for the holiday season.

The Christmas decorations are already on full display at Turquoise Otter. The boutique shop in downtown Kennesaw has navigated its way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

But with the holidays quickly approaching, co-owner Jill Smith is faced with yet another challenge.

“Our orders were put in back in January through March, so you expect it to come in and you’re looking for it,” Smith said. “It’s very frustrating, because we just don’t know what to expect.”

Smith told Channel 2′s Chris Jose that she only has 20% of the ornaments that she ordered.

“Are you confident the other half is going to show up?” Jose asked Smith.

“No. We’re not confident at all,” she said.

The backlog of cargo ships in southern California reached an all-time high this week. On Tuesday, more than 100 ships were waiting to unload thousands of containers. Dozens of ships have been idle at sea for weeks.

It’s a similar scene at the Port of Savannah. Channel 2 flew NewsDrone 2 over the port, showing mountains of steel boxes waiting to be unloaded.


The Georgia Ports Authority said there are nearly 80,000 shipping containers, which is 50% more than usual.

“Georgia is a major player in logistics. We have the Port of Savannah, the 4th largest port in the country and the fastest-growing port,” said Kennesaw State University Professor Dr. Christina Scherrer.

She serves on the executive advisory board for the Atlanta area for supply chain management.

On any given day, Scherrer told Jose that around 20 ships in Savannah are waiting to dock.

“Typically, you wouldn’t see ships that are waiting to get to those berths at the Port of Savannah,” Scherrer said.

She said once the ships pull in, it could take a day or more to unload 10,000 or more containers.

“The next area where we may see attention is that the warehouses throughout the country are starting to fill up as well,” Scherrer said.

“That’s where a lot of this rush is coming from, so we are extremely busy,” newly hired truck driver Neonta Hayes said.

She told Jose that she just finished her program at Chattahoochee Technical College on Aug. 2 and landed a job 24 hours later.

“They’re trying to get people trained so they can fill these positions to keep the shelves stocked and things going,” Hayes said.

WorkSource Cobb recognizes the truck driver shortage. The agency is helping metro Atlanta companies fill the void.

“We’ve been training individuals for the last 21 years, but now is one of the most critical times we’ve had in our history,” WorkSource Cobb CEO Sonya Grant said.

Retail stores know first-hand how many workers are needed.

Back in Kennesaw, Smith said she has seen the images of bare shelves at big box stores, but she remains optimistic.

“We’ve got to look to the future and getting work back over here, and getting things produced closer to America and in America,” Smith said.

It’s not just shortages we’re seeing. Shipping prices are up, too.

Smith told Jose that some vendors are tacking a 15% surcharge for shipping, and that’s a cost she’s absorbing for now.






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