How Supply Chain Backups Threaten to Leave Store Shelves Bare

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In an aerial view, container ships are anchored by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as they wait to offload on September 20, 2021 near Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

What do a bicycle, a living room sofa, spools of copper wire, and a six-pack of Cherry Vanilla Coke Zero have in common? All of them may soon be or currently are in short supply as the global economy experiences a supply chain in disarray that has left few consumer goods and commodities untouched. Ships backed up and waiting to dock in California ports, containers that wait for trucks or trains to deliver them, and warehouses that lack enough labor to unpack those containers -- all contribute to the bottlenecks in the supply chain that threaten to leave store shelves empty. With the holidays around the corner, some retailers, like Costco, are hiring their own ships to help deliver goods. We’ll look into what is causing these supply chain issues and how they might be resolved in the near- and long-term future.


Jennifer Smith, reporter with the Wall Street Journal. She covers logistics and supply chain for the newspaper.

Mario Cordero, executive director, Port of Long Beach

John McLaurin, president, Pacific Merchants Shipping Association, a not-for-profit trade association focused on global trade

Charmaine Chua, associate professor of Global Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Jordyn Holman, reporter, Blooomberg News. Holman covers the retail sector.