A Sticky Ship-tuation.

Been waiting months for your order to arrive? Here’s why…

Everyone’s familiar with the Suez Canal Incident earlier this year and, no, this certainly did not help the cause. However, since November 2020, things have not been going ‘swimmingly’ at all, and the captain of Ever Given is not entirely to blame.

At the beginning of the Pandemic – March 2020 (though, we need not remind you when this was) – many business stopped trading or simply were unable to trade under the lockdown. Therefore, the number of container shipments declined as these businesses could not accept the imports and, as such, shipping companies mothballed many empty containers as they were not required.

As the lockdowns were (briefly) lifted across Europe during Summer and beyond, some companies were able to start trading again. Furthermore, many online companies saw an increase in demand for their products, as people were staying at home and not going away/going to experiences. This meant the demand for containers increased, especially towards the end of 2020, as the months leading up to Christmas are already notorious for being busy shipping periods.

The impact of all of this, and the reasons why your order may be taking months to arrive, is as follows:

  • The cost of a 40ft container has risen from a standard $2,000 (or thereabouts), to an untenable (for most companies) $10-12,000. As such, many businesses did not ship anything in the early months of 2021. Therefore, 3-4 months’ worth of shipments were delayed from the get-go this year.
  • Staff shortages and sporadic factory shut downs in the Far East (due to Covid outbreaks) are causing a delay in the manufacturing of goods, therefore expanding the gap between production and demand.
  • It used to take around 24 hours to get an empty container to a factory for loading. Now, it is taking anything between 48 hours and 40 days – depending on when an empty container can be obtained – hence, the absence of regular updates from companies, because there is no fixed loading/departure system.
  • What’s more; containers are now being auctioned off to the highest bidder.
  • Some vessels are being told to sail slower to save fuel, thus extending its time on the water.
  • Once a vessel reaches (for example) a UK port, there is a bottleneck forming due to the volume of freight being brought over, and so it is taking longer for containers to be unloaded at the port. Outbreaks of the virus at ports can also see them closed for certain periods of time.
  • The shortage of HGV drivers in the UK is further delaying stock arrivals, as there are not enough drivers to bring the containers from ports to inland warehouses.

There are, of course, some other factors contributing to the delays, but these are most of them.

Midlands Conservatory & Garden Furniture is a genuine family business of 24 years. Never in all this time have we seen such levels of chaos and frustration across the board. We work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day behind the scenes to keep everything running as smoothly as possible, despite the fact that – at times- the odds seem stacked against us. We are proud to offer a personal service to all our customers, and our priority in these times is to ensure we maintain this at all times. We would like to apologise if you are reading this and still waiting for something you ordered with us months ago. We assure you, we are doing our best, and we are waiting along with you.

We would also like to say a massive thank you to all our suppliers who have worked with us during the last 2 years, through what has been a difficult and sad time for everyone. We are so grateful for the support we have had from them, and also from our lovely customers who have kept us going with their understanding, patience, and kind words.

Soon, we hope, some form of normality may return for us all.

Full steam ahead!