US: Toys and toilet paper

At Christmas, "there will be things that people can't get", a White House official has warned.

Stocks of toys will be affected, as could staples such as toilet paper and bottled water, new clothes and pet food.

Part of the problem is a bottleneck at US ports. Four out of 10 shipping containers entering the US come through just two ports - in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

On one day in September, a record 73 ships were forced to queue outside Los Angeles port. Before Covid, it was unusual for more than one to be waiting.

Both ports have now moved to a 24/7 operation to help ease the pressures.


In some cases, shortages have also been caused by ongoing Covid-related problems in other countries.

American sportswear giant Nike, for example, makes many of its products in southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, where factories have been closed.

Even when goods are produced, delivering them to retailers has become more difficult, says Prof Willy Shih of Harvard Business School.

There has been a surge in spending by US consumers, but disruption at factories, ports and "overloaded" road and rail networks have created a bottleneck, he says.


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