During the late fall thru winter of 2020, the corona virus brought on major complications to the US shipping services and beyond. Major lags through Fed Ex, UPS and USPS created headaches and millions of dollars in losses over just a few months.
Due to the fear so many have about shopping in public stores, online shopping has reached record highs. I have spoken with many skate shops who, in the spring of 2020, were forced to open online stores to help survive due to the mandatory shut downs spread across the world. Some of those same shops in the summer of 2021 are now KILLING it in online sales. One local skate shop I spoke with actually had to shut down it's store last week due to the excessive online sales. Their online store sold so much that they were unable to keep up while servicing their walk in customers at the same time. They had over 100 orders come in over a single weekend. That's fantastic for that shop and I appreciate so many from all over the nation supporting a local skate shop rather than going to a corporate chain's online store.
But, what will the future of online shopping bring? For many small, local shops it has brought in added revenue. But, it can also bring problems. With the heightened retail sales of ALL types in ALL markets across the nation and for that matter, the world; countries like China who are world producers of THINGS, the shipping industry is barely hanging on. Due to the increased production of all products, including direct part replacements and materials, shipping from countries such as China has been forced to find was to increase movements in order to hold up to demands. Unfortunately, many of those countries are less free than the USA and while the production companies struggle to keep up, they are fighting against mandates and government ordered shut downs. For instance, according to CNN Business, the Ningbo-Zhoushan port just south of Shanghai has been shut down since August 11 due to a Covid-19 outbreak. This port is the third largest port in the world and the shut down had forced major shipping lines to adjust shipping routes and adjust the way they conduct business. In response to adjusting the way shipping is conducted, it appears that safety regulations have been sidestepped to try to keep up. In 2020, 3000 shipping containers were lost at sea and as of April 2021, 1000 for the year had already been lost. Add in the oil vessels sinking, shipping from overseas has not only had major logistical and economical impacts but major environmental impacts as well with the added tons of plastic and oils being introduced to our oceans.
Recently, Business insider has reported that in the United States, Fed Ex is being forced to reroute 600,000 packages per day due to their struggles with finding enough people to process the coming packages. In the winter of 2020, we at Schlaudie saw what happens when shipping companies fail to meet the required staffing. We had winter orders take up to ONE MONTH to reach their destination. These packages were scheduled to arrive at skate shops by Black Friday and barely made it by Christmas day, making huge losses of sales for skate shops nation wide. In the winter of 2021, shipping is expected to be worse.
So how can we mitigate these issues? Well, simply put, BUY LOCAL and BUY AMERICAN (well, buy within the Americas. Stay away from overseas shipping) . The way that the national and world economy is built, everything must, at some point, be moved through shipping whether it be international or regional. But, if we do our part to keep things local, we can limit the moving parts. Instead of shopping from major corporations such as Target, Zumiez or other corporate stores which import many skate products from China, we can keep shipping at home. (Yes it disgusts me to think we have lowered ourselves as a skate community to now adding Target to the realm of skate products). Visit your local skate shop, give them your love. Shop with them and spend your money physically inside your own communities. Shop smaller brands as they typically keep the product high quality and less "Made in China" as the larger brands do. And lastly, be patient. Understand that some products just are simply not going to exist this winter. Some brands may have back log and production issues. Buy what your local shop has on the wall. They are trying their hardest to keep you with product. You may find that the unknown brand will become your new favorite product!
All-in-all, we do not feel the shipping problems will bring the end of skateboarding but, it will bring hick-ups. Remember, we are ALL in this together and we can all come out better on the other side.
As always, stay safe, have fun and always SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SKATE SHOP!
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