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US facing port congestion on both coasts as a result of the Suez Canal obstruction

Posted at 3:23 PM, Apr 16, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Steve Negaard knows one thing better than most. It’s in his blood.

“You know, my grandfather came over from Sweden and he didn’t really know much except shoe repair. I’m the owner of a family business here in Minneapolis. We’ve been in business since 1929. It’s called Nokomis Shoe."

Nokomis Shoe is an unassuming but quaint store in south Minneapolis. And while Negaard knows shoes, lately he hasn’t known when his next order will be filled.

“I’ve never had it where it’s so slow to get the product that I’ve ordered. It’s a day-to-day battle to get product,” said Negaard.

This isn’t just a problem for Negaard, and not just a problem for businesses selling shoes.

“The last few weeks, feels like the last few months, we’ve had a lot of a lot supply chain challenges, the result of COVID-19. And obviously a couple weeks ago we had the incident with the Evergiven in the Suez Canal, which is further stressing the supply chain,” said Jonathan Gold, the VP of Supply Chain and Customs Policy for the National Retail Federation.

He says the late March obstruction of the Suez Canal in Egypt only made global trade issues even worse.

“You’ve seen the congestion on the West Coast for a couple of months now,” said Gold.

Or maybe you haven’t seen it. Ports on the West Coast have been clogged since before Christmas. Now, the same thing is likely to happen on the East Coast, even though ships are flowing through the now unblocked canal.

“Your vessels are now heading to the East Coast and it’s going to cause some port congestion as a result. Instead of the vessels being staggered as they normally are, they’re all going to come at once,” said Gold.

And that is going to affect you when you go shopping on items you might not ever think about.

“Even soaps out of Seattle, it’s everything. I don’t see the situation improving for at least 120 days,” said Negaard.

Negaard has made a ton of adjustments and Nokomis is doing OK. But he’s worried about other small businesses around the country.

“I just, I hope the consumer shops local and thinks about these people that are supporting their neighborhoods and communities, because we won’t be around if they don’t.”