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In the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle 40% of the containers entering the U.S., backups have been observed since this summer, with many ships sitting offshore. (Source photo by Reuters)

U.S. retailers suffer shortages before holiday season

Shipping mess causing grave supply-side constraints at critical time for recovery

KENJI ASADA and HIONA SHIRAIWA, Nikkei staff writers | U.S.

TOKYO/NEW YORK -- A shipping mess at major U.S. ports is looming over the year-end shopping season, casting a shadow over a possible pickup in consumption as the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.

Manufacturers and retailers are eager to procure goods by late November or early December, when many people buy in order to leave time for sending Christmas gifts, but the outlook for the normalization of port operations is unclear. Worries about a failure to avoid running out of stock before the clock runs out are growing.

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