Holiday Supply Chain Challenges and Carrier Shipping Deadlines

Shipping Containers
The supply chain bottleneck

As we head into the heart of the busy holiday shipping season, the entire supply chain across the country is starting to see the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. From producers to rail, air, and ground carriers, delivery and supply timelines continue to lengthen just as consumers begin their holiday shopping.

So why is this happening? In summary, when the pandemic caused business closures across the globe last spring, that caused a noticeable delay in manufacturing and delivering raw materials and finished goods. This has had a particularly negative effect on container shipping to and from Asia and Europe. When economies started to re-open in mid-2020, a flood of container ships filled with backorders from earlier in the year began to come from overseas to ports on the west coast. There are now many ships sitting at ports across the country waiting to be unloaded, causing a global imbalance of available ships in the pipeline. From consumer goods to electronics to raw materials, those items have been sitting, waiting to be unloaded for weeks.

It’s not unlike going to the mall on Black Friday and trying to find a parking spot. When every place is filled, you circle the lot waiting for one to open. Right now, there are a lot more ships than there are parking spots at ports. Considering some ships have more than 10,000 containers that can take 1-3 days to unload, you can see where this becomes an issue.

Shipping to you and your customers

FedEx, UPS, and USPS have released their shipping schedules and deadlines for the 2021 holiday season. It’s important to understand these deadlines, both for items you’re ordering for your business as well as orders you plan to ship to your customers. All three carriers are already strained for resources, and delays will only increase as we get closer to the holiday season.

Here are direct links to the carrier holiday shipping schedule web pages. Please refer to these as you’re planning your holiday orders and shipping:

What can you do?  

It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but buying the products you need is your best bet to ensure you have what you need for your customers. If you see something that you want in stock, buy it now. There are no guarantees that those items will be restocked before the holidays this year. 

This also applies to your personal holiday shopping. Officials warn that popular items may be hard to come by this holiday, and shopping early is your best bet to make sure you get the gifts you want for your loved ones. 

Also, be sure to stay on top of carrier shipping times. Check their holiday pages regularly to see if there are any further service disruptions. We’d recommend you build in a few extra days to these deadlines to account for localized shipping delays.  

Since early spring, the Johnson Plastics Plus product and purchasing teams have been working to ensure we have as much inventory as possible for the holiday season. While we’re seeing isolated pockets of low inventory of some items, we continue to have plenty of stock on the vast majority of products on  

With a little extra planning and a dash of patience, we can make sure this holiday season is a happy one for you and your customers!

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