While only a few retailers have cited West Coast port congestion as a bottom-line problem, that is set to change, experts say. Fast-fashion retailers may be especially vulnerable because of their dependence on constant shipments.
The slowdown and looming stoppage could cost retailers $7 billion this year, says retail analyst Frank Layo at consulting firm Kurt Salmon. That could be mitigated by the dollar’s surge, which is making imports less expensive.
In a 10-day shutdown, the economy overall could suffer a $2 billion daily blow, say the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers.
After months of both sides saying talks were slow but steady, the situation at West Coast ports is starting to look dire. The shippers are accusing workers and their union of being “reckless,” while the workers noted that a shutdown was ordered by the shippers themselves.
Even with government intervention, the talks have gone almost nowhere. That needs to change—and fast—to avoid a loss of billions of dollars for both retailers and the economy as a whole.