Walmart has become the latest big American retail brand to take shipping matters into its own hands, chartering a number of ships.
The giant supermarket chain follows in the footsteps of Home Depot in deciding to move some of its goods on the transpacific via tonnage it controls rather than pay sky high rates to global liners for shipments that tend to arrive late.
In an earnings call on Tuesday, Walmart’s CEO, John Furner, revealed: “We’ve chartered vessels … we’ve secured capacity for the third and fourth quarter and feel good about the inventory positioning particularly compared to last year with inventory up 20% across the segments.”
According to Steve Ferreira, the CEO of New York-based consultancy Ocean Audit, Walmart has already completed two voyages, both arriving in the US this month, using Walmart branded 53 ft containers. The first voyage had 177 53 ft boxes onboard, and the second one contained 247 similarly sized containers.
Shippers deciding to take control of their own supply chains is not restricted to chartering ships. Splash reported earlier this week of the decision of a major Canadian tyre manufacturer to invest in an inland container terminal.
Ports in North America are struggling to keep up with this year’s peak season.
Giving an update on operations on Tuesday, Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, America’s largest boxport, said the challenge facing the entire supply chain amounts to “squeezing 10 lanes of freeway traffic into five lanes”.
The port boss advised consumers to get their Christmas shopping plans in place far earlier this year or risk having some very disappointed family members come December 25.
The extraordinary pressure felt at many of America’s ports on intermodal routes is making headlines daily in US mainstream media. Earlier in the summer the White House announced the creation of a Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force. Led by the secretaries of commerce, transportation and agriculture, the task force aims to bring together stakeholders “to diagnose problems and surface solutions – large and small, public or private – that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints.”