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Extensive congestion stress on U.S. ports is the most critical issue facing brokers and forwarders this year and to call the situation difficult is laughably minimizing a terrible problem. According to The Loadstar, last week there were 65 ships at anchor in San Pedro Bay, a current record-breaking number*. Amazingly, the current average transit time from China to the U.S. is 71 days; more than a month longer than the average just two years ago. In addition, the wait time for ships in San Pedro Bay is around 8 days, with ships that arrived at the end of August waiting for the longest. 


The delays build out from the ports, soaking up warehouse space, clogging rail yards, and straining the entire network as many add hours to the workday to try and catch up with the deluge. Climbing spot rates coincide with this dearth of space and push past $20,000. Even the air cargo market is tighter than ever with congestion holding up recovery for days at some hubs in the United States. There hasn’t been a facet of logistics that isn’t impacted by the current situation. 


We at Edward J. Zarach & Associates are working hard to ensure the cargo we control is moving as booked.  The best way to fight back against the issues we’re seeing is to make sure we plan ahead and remain flexible, especially when we’re looking at picking up and delivering freight. Proper prioritization can be helpful when we look at the extended wait times impacting trans-Pac ocean cargo. We ask our customers to consider splitting shipments by modalities, expediting with our XLERATE program, or looking into alternate routings to avoid the most severely impacted areas. 


The complexity of the cargo situation is alarming when we consider how close we are to the coming holiday shopping season. It’s a good idea to get a head start on shopping and orders, but it’s a better idea to have already made your plans and started processes. We don’t suggest waiting any longer as compounded delays will exacerbate the problems we’re seeing. If you need to make your final holiday cargo plans, we suggest reaching out to your Zarach representative for assistance.

*The real record-breaking number will be how many records have been broken in the logistics market since the start of the pandemic. Probably all of them.