Problems include port congestion, overloaded terminals and a shortage of containers

Problems include port congestion, overloaded terminals and a shortage of containers

The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is being urged to take action over a spike in contract violations and detention and demurrage charges hitting apparel and footwear retailers, brands and importers.

Despite having contracts in place, companies are having to pay unexpected and unplanned surcharges, premiums, and/or spot rates to get their cargo on ships, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA). 

Even then, it says in a letter to FMC chairman Michael Khouri, "cargoes have still been rolled, forcing them to miss key delivery dates, leading to further lost sales (particularly for seasonal product) or further charges from their customers. 

"Further, our members have faced a spike in detention and demurrage charges for situations completely out of their control." 

The AAFA is urging the Federal Maritime Commission "to fulfil its oversight role to ensure that contracts are honoured and that its new policy on detention and demurrage charges is followed."

It adds that immediate action is critical going into the 2021-2022 contract season. 

Problems cited include a 3 week delay at sea on seasonal goods, contracts being ignored and space not being allocated, delays getting empty containers back to China to keep up with demand, and equipment shortages in China.

The carriers are also using bigger vessels and adding special loaders to satisfy demand, but this is causing issues at the port with congestion, overloaded terminals, and vessels out at anchor waiting for berth space.

Larger ships with more containers, and more ships, means truckers can't get appointments to pick up the goods – leading to excessive wait times and demurrage charges for delays to unloading. Covid also means there are fewer truckers available.

Earlier this month just-style looked in detail at how Logistics bottlenecks pose major problems for clothing supply chains.