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Supply chain crisis hits Halloween in US as shelves are stripped bare leaving shoppers scrambling

Halloween is under threat from supply chain chaos as ‘distraught’ shoppers are already battling empty shelves and canceled orders weeks ahead of the festivities.

Costumes, decorations and candy remain held up in ports due to a shortage of truck drivers, warehouse space and bottlenecks in the network.

Customers are already venting their fury after having to forego Halloween last year due to the Covid pandemic, only to be faced with the prospect of another muted celebration this year due to supply issues.

Halloween is under threat from supply chain chaos as ‘distraught’ shoppers are already battling empty shelves and canceled orders weeks ahead of the festivities

Costumes, decorations and candy remain held up in ports due to a shortage of truck drivers, warehouse space and bottlenecks in the network

Costumes, decorations and candy remain held up in ports due to a shortage of truck drivers, warehouse space and bottlenecks in the network

Customers are already venting their fury after having to forego Halloween last year due to the Covid pandemic

Customers are already venting their fury after having to forego Halloween last year due to the Covid pandemic

Ben Weaver, 27, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, told the Wall Street Journal: ‘I went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and I’m already seeing the Christmas stuff replace the Halloween stuff which is ridiculous.

‘I’m like, “hello, are we just skipping Halloween this year?'”‘

One shopper raged online: ‘Disappointed with Target and their lack of stocking their shelves with Halloween decor. The shelves have been empty every time I’ve gone in.’

Another said: ‘I know it’s supply chain shortages and so businesses have had to order less and order super far in advance but I am also allowed to be super distraught that so many places are out of Halloween stuff already and my baking plans are foiled.’

Some say they have been forced to hand-make decorations and costumes after struggling to find any decor in shops or online.

Shoppers say they have been forced to hand-make decorations and costumes after struggling to find any decor in shops or online

Shoppers say they have been forced to hand-make decorations and costumes after struggling to find any decor in shops or online

A shopper walks past shelves with only a few items in the Halloween section in a Target store in Miami

A shopper walks past shelves with only a few items in the Halloween section in a Target store in Miami

A Home Depot spokeswoman said stock on Halloween items went quickly because consumers are engaged with decorating again this year.

Meanwhile Lowes said stores have been stocking Halloween and Christmas good earlier than usual.

One Halloween-themed store in Florida said it has been a ‘nightmare’ trying to navigate the supply chain issues which are also threatening to detail Christmas.

Crissy Barchers, the owner of Red Headed Witches, told NBC 2: ‘We are very excited that Halloween season is here. 

‘We are under some crazy experience where shipping is a nightmare, getting product is a nightmare, our wholesaler can’t get product because the cargo ships are stuck waiting to unload and there’s no one to unload them. 

Halloween shoppers are being encouraged to shop for costumes and supplies early as stores struggle to maintain holiday stock due to disruptions in the supply chain

Halloween shoppers are being encouraged to shop for costumes and supplies early as stores struggle to maintain holiday stock due to disruptions in the supply chain

Many stores say they placed their Halloween orders back in January and are still waiting for them to be delivered

Many stores say they placed their Halloween orders back in January and are still waiting for them to be delivered

‘We didn’t even realize this was going to be an issue until mid to late September. By mid-September when all of our big Halloween initial orders started coming, sometimes it was half short.’

The shop-owner said she is desperately searching every day to find products but she is currently on a seven to ten day waiting list for orders just to be processed, even before shipping is taken into account.

Many stores say they placed their Halloween orders back in January and are still waiting for them to be delivered.

D. Nachnani, president of Harygul’s Halloween Superstore in Virginia, told WTKR: ‘The scariest thing to me as an owner is having an empty rack or empty section with all of this. That is the scariest thing. 

Thousands of containers sit waiting to be loaded on trucks and trains as large container ships are unloaded from the Ports of Los Angeles (pictured) and Long Beach, while dozens of large container ships wait to be unloaded offshore Wednesday

Thousands of containers sit waiting to be loaded on trucks and trains as large container ships are unloaded from the Ports of Los Angeles (pictured) and Long Beach, while dozens of large container ships wait to be unloaded offshore Wednesday

‘After ordering everything in January and December of last year and to wait until October and the last weeks of September to get merchandise in the last ten days of October and last 15 days, it truly was a scary situation.’

Retailers who are managing to get supplies delivered are also having to fork out as much as ten times the usual shipping fees to ensure the products arrive in their stores.

This will then in turn cause a price hike for the customer when finances are already tight in the US post-pandemic. 

Greg Reinke, co-owner and founder of Halloween-themed store Reinke Brothers in Colorado, told The Denver Channel: ‘Before COVID, a container cost $1,300 to ship. Now, it’s $13,000 per container. 

‘You’re going to see prices on all kinds of things go through the roof.’

President Joe Biden has tried to avert the crisis during the festive season by touting new commitments from businesses and ports to ease the burden on shoppers.

Shipping containers are held up at a terminal at the Port of Long Beach as supply issues hold up the system

Shipping containers are held up at a terminal at the Port of Long Beach as supply issues hold up the system

President Joe Biden has tried to avert the crisis during the festive season by touting new commitments from businesses and ports to ease the burden on shoppers

President Joe Biden has tried to avert the crisis during the festive season by touting new commitments from businesses and ports to ease the burden on shoppers

‘With the holidays coming up, you might be wondering if gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time?’ Biden said, acknowledging the crush of commercial and online orders at risk of disruption as the holiday season approaches.

‘I know you’re hearing a lot about something called supply chains and how hard it is to get a range of things from a toaster to sneakers to bicycles to bedroom furniture.’

He proposed new agreements, saying: ‘This is a big first step in moving up the movement of materials and good through our supply chain,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House.

He called new agreements with ports, unions, and shippers ‘a sign of major progress in moving goods from manufacturers to a store and to your front door.’

His remarks came shortly after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: ‘We are not the postal service or UPS or FedEx. We cannot guarantee. What we can do is use every lever at the federal government’s disposal to reduce delays, to ensure that we are addressing bottlenecks in the system, including ports and the need for them to be open longer hours.

An extraordinary backlog is paralyzing the port activities as an estimated 500,000 containers are reportedly still sitting on docked container ships

An extraordinary backlog is paralyzing the port activities as an estimated 500,000 containers are reportedly still sitting on docked container ships

Under the new agreement the Port of Los Angeles will join the Port of Long Beach in working around the clock

Under the new agreement the Port of Los Angeles will join the Port of Long Beach in working around the clock

Biden reached a deal on Wednesday with unions and business leaders from Walmart, FedEx, UPS and others to expand operations at one of the country’s largest shipping ports in a bid to ease supply chain bottlenecks that are driving up consumer prices and emptying store shelves.

Once implemented the proposed changes could increase output by more than 3,500 shipping containers per week, White House officials said.

Under the new agreement the Port of Los Angeles will join the Port of Long Beach in working around the clock to alleviate some of the supply chain bottlenecks plaguing consumers ahead of the holiday season. 

The two ports account for 40 percent of all shipping containers entering the United States. 

Ports are also just one piece of the puzzle as the US also needs more truck drivers, better infrastructure, and a supply chain that can less easily be disrupted by pandemics and extreme weather. 

The two ports account for 40 percent of all shipping containers entering the United States

The two ports account for 40 percent of all shipping containers entering the United States

The White House said it set-up a task force in June to tackle the issue, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday. She went on to blame the pandemic for economic fallout, describing the situation as ‘inevitable.’

‘I can’t make a prediction,’ Psaki said about how long the supply chain bottlenecks would last. However, she said that an overnight fix on the congestion of the issue isn’t realistic.

‘The supply chain task force has been working around the clock for months and months to address a range of… different issues that we see in the supply chain… There are issues at the ports…those have been on the rise recently,’ she said.

University of Michigan economist Betsey Stevenson noted on Twitter the ‘economy is in a very fragile and unprecedented place.’

Prices are rising at more than 5 per cent, trade in goods and services have slowed and more Americans are quitting their jobs while the delta variant has made the coronavirus pandemic a risk.

‘No one really knows what’s going to happen,’ wrote Stevenson, a former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama.


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