A reorganization at the United States Postal Service combined with a logjam at West Coast ports could lead to holiday shortages and shipping delays.
Starting Friday, a small amount of first class mail and periodicals could take extra time to arrive. Single piece first class mail traveling in the same region will still be delivered within two days. But items like first class parcels or items traveling from one zone to another could take an extra two days on top of the typical shipping time.
Also starting Sunday, the postal service will temporarily increase prices on all package deliveries through the end of Christmas. That could mean an extra 75 cents to $5 per item.
American consumers and businesses also have to contend with another shipping issue: the logjam of container ships outside ports on both the East and West coasts, which could delay the arrival of goods into stores.
There are two reasons for the jam: a record demand for goods into the U.S., and a shortage of truck drivers and warehouse space to move and store those goods.
"If I'm a local farmer, trying to get a truck driver to drive my shipment of tomatoes to the market, I might suddenly find that my favorite trucking company doesn't have enough truck drivers because there are more lucrative jobs that consumer electronics companies have that are paying a premium for the same service," said Bindiya Vakil, CEO and founder of Resilinc. "So it's just a matter of who has the deeper pockets that is able to buy up all of the available talent, skilled drivers being one of them."
Locally, the Port of Oakland says it actually handled fewer ships last month compared to a year ago because a lot of those ships diverted to avoid the logjams here on the West Coast. In spite of that, import cargo volume was up slightly last month, evidence those fewer ships were carrying much more product in their holds.