The enormous strains felt by retailers in the US, struggling to get stock on their shelves, has taken an extraordinary turn with one of the biggest names on the American high street deciding to take matters into its own hands.
Home Depot, the largest home improvement retailer in the US, has chartered in a boxship to move its own goods.
“We have a ship that’s solely going to be ours and it’s just going to go back and forth with 100% dedicated to Home Depot,” chief operating officer Ted Decker told CNBC. The charter starts from next month.
Home Depot is the third largest US importer by volume of containers, according to data from the Journal of Commerce, behind Walmart and Target.
Retailers have had to contend with extreme demand, high freight costs and plenty of logistical shortages brought about by Covid-19 this year. What’s more the peak season is about to kick into gear in America. The National Retail Federation last week boosted its outlook for the year, saying it anticipates “the fastest growth that we’ve seen in this country since 1984.”
Retail sales across the US are expected to grow between 10.5% and 13.5% to an estimated total of $4.44trn to $4.56trn in 2021. That compares with $4.02trn in total retail sales in 2020 and $3.76trn in 2019.