COVID's impact on trade may last another year and a half, University of Houston expert says

ByCourtney Carpenter KTRK logo
Thursday, October 14, 2021
Port traffic holds up national supply chain
Stacks of shipping containers filled with the goods Americans buy every day are backing up in ports around the country.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The cost of eggs, meat and clothes are all up. Those are a few of the impacts of the supply chain backup we are all feeling.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced the Port of Los Angeles will be open 24 hours a day for the next 90 days to try to relieve some of the issues. He also said some companies like Wal-Mart, FedEx and UPS are committed to help by unloading during off-peak hours.

RELATED: Port of Houston seeing record number imports during pandemic

While Americans may not think about the process that takes place in order to get the goods we want to buy on the shelves, the increase in prices and a shortage of some products sheds some light on what's happening.

"What we are experiencing is just an unprecedented amount of import cargo, as you've probably heard. This stems from the pandemic, a lot of buying of goods through e-commerce. Because people didn't take vacations, they had some disposable income to do that. And now it's also carrying over to the peak season for the Christmas rush," explained Roger Guenther, the executive director at Port Houston.

How much longer can we expect higher prices and trouble finding all the items we want?

"I think its realistic that the impact of COVID on trade, we will feel (it) for the next 12 to 18 months. I mean, this is not something that's going to go away overnight," explained Margaret Kidd, a supply chain and logistics expert with the University of Houston.

Kidd went on to encourage people to go ahead and shop for Christmas if they can. She said hoarding does not help, but be aware if you wait until the last minute this year, you may not be able to get everything you want.

She suggests buying early and getting your presents in the mail six weeks ahead of Christmas if you can.

What will it take to get the supply chain back on track?

"You know we're 18 months into this, and we easily have another 12 to 18 months of market volatility, congestion, on-and-off manufacturing, and at the end of the day, it is all related to COVID. We've got to flatten the curve globally to get the system back on track," explained Kidd.