Ports in California have never been this busy, and it’s adding to shortages of everything from furniture to electronics

Container ships waiting at the port of Long Beach, California.
  • A record-breaking number of cargo ships is waiting to dock at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.
  • The ships are waiting for over 8 days and causing further disruptions in US supply chains.
  • Import volumes at the California ports are only expected to increase in the coming weeks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A record-breaking number of cargo ships are off the coast of California, waiting to get into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Over 60 ships are waiting to dock and unload, further contributing to supply chain issues and delays in the US. There are 146 total ships in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Of the 146 vessels, 92 are container ships.

“The normal number of container ships at anchor is between zero and one,” Kip Louttit, the executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, told Insider in July.

Last month, congestion at the ports reached an all-time high as disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic continued to impact the industry, Insider reported. Changes in consumers’ purchasing habits during the ongoing pandemic, labor shortages at the docks, limited warehouse space, and trucking issues once goods are ready to reach their final destinations are contributing to industry-wide shortages in the US.

Import volumes at the California ports are only expected to increase in the coming weeks, according to data by the Port of Los Angeles. Wait time at the ports is currently estimated at 8.7 days, and will likely go up.

Ports on the West Coast operate as the primary location to receive goods imported from China, with containers bringing in everything from furniture to auto parts, clothes, electronics, and plastics, Shipping rates between the US and China are at an all-time high, and prices between the two regions have jumped 500% from this time last year, Insider reported.

As a result, holiday shopping this year is expected to have major disruptions related to the problems within supply chains. Experts are recommending shoppers get ahead of the curve by doing their shopping ahead of Black Friday, shop locally, and purchase only domestic goods.