Experts warn of shipping delays ahead of holiday season, Florida seaports could offer a solution

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It may be a while before you see your online orders arrive at your front door.

Economists are warning there will be delays in shipping for a long time, which could cause a longer wait time for online orders and the risk of empty shelves at local stores.

So, what’s causing the delays? Experts said there is a shortage of workers. Many ships are stuck at two of the biggest ports in the U.S.

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The website MarineTraffic.com has a free tracker you can use to monitor ships waiting to enter the harbors at ports around the world. (Cargo ships are the green dots/arrows. A dot means the ship is anchored, an arrow means it’s in transit.)

Florida leaders believe Florida seaports could offer a solution.

Officials with the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) said it’s not experiencing the backlogs seen at other container ports in the nation.

Even amid the pandemic, JAXPORT said there hasn’t been a wait for ships to get into the port.

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All the ships stuck at sea for weeks in California, could be at a Florida port in a matter of about seven days, according to JAXPORT, which is shorter than how long some of the other ships that are stuck are waiting.

That’s why the Florida Ports Council is hoping the federal government will consider using Florida ports as an alternative.

Michael Rubin, the president and CEO of Florida Ports Council, said Florida ports are great options, because over the past decade, the state has invested in railroads and logistics to move products more quickly.

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“The investments our elected officials have made in JAXPORT over the years, as well as their support throughout the pandemic, make us well-positioned to serve the needs of today’s supply chain. With fast access to 98 million consumers and no container terminal congestion, JAXPORT is an attractive option for shippers looking to escape port congestion,” a spokesperson for JAXPORT said.

The only hurdle is getting people on board with abandoning their typical cargo routes. Rubin worries this holiday season will force people to rethink.

“There’s no easy quick fix. I hope that this - Grinch stealing Christmas this year - isn’t so bad that people don’t get their product this year, but it certainly will be an ability to modify it and use other more efficient routes like Florida,” Rubin said.

On Wednesday afternoon, President Joe Biden will address supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions at White House. He will meet with the heads of California ports and their workers’ union, along with some large private sector companies and deliver remarks at 2:20 p.m.