A lot of factors impact disposable glove prices, from raw materials to labor to supply and demand to shipping and transportation. Over the last year, they have all contributed to glove prices rising while availability suffers.
At the moment, nothing is putting more pressure on the market than major disruptions to the global supply chain. And the crisis reaches far beyond disposable gloves.
Transportation and logistical delays are wreaking havoc with products across the board, from furniture to electronics to Pelotons. The problem starts with a rise in producer costs that trickles down to higher shipping costs and trucking rates. Delivery costs for online orders are also expected to increase further.
Goods of all kinds from overseas are backed up as ports are congested with both containers and ships waiting to be unloaded.
In early 2020, ocean carriers reduced their fleets in response to COVID. Overwhelmed manufacturers simply did not have goods to deliver. Now, a year later, the carriers have resisted the urge to flood the market with more vessels, so there are fewer ships to meet the demand.
Shipping costs have soared, enough that some retailers have resorted to flying their products from China—but that is an even more expensive proposition.
Things are tough all over
Jonathan Williams of Shutters & Millwork in Tampa is an AMMEX customer. In a conversation last week he talked about what’s changed for his business, which imports shutter hardware from Southeast Asia.
“Four months ago, it was, ‘We can’t get containers to put your products in to ship them to you,’ because there were no containers available,” he said. “A month after that, they have more containers, but it costs an extra $3,000 to get it right now or you will have to wait in line with everybody else. I said OK, I’ll pay the 3 grand because I need my stuff. Then it was, they’ve got all these containers sitting on the dock, but there are no ships to bring them over.
“One of my suppliers says he has 400 containers sitting at a dock waiting to go on various boats.”
Continued supply constraints and higher container prices are expected, even as product piles up in warehouses.
Traffic jam isn’t going away soon
The ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland are likely to remain congested for months and possibly into 2022. This creates a ripple effect with freight transportation systems like truck and rail, leading to further delays in products being delivered.
AMMEX, based in Washington state and with warehouses in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Southeast, uses the ports of Tacoma and Seattle on the West Coast and Savannah on the East Coast. While we have been able to get much of our product through, it is wishful thinking to expect that to continue indefinitely once traffic is diverted from California ports.
To put it simply, everything imported is going to cost more. The delays and slowdowns brought on by the lack of shipping capacity will add costs every step of the way: $2 here, $3 there.
Flow of products slowing to a crawl
As prices go up, just as troublesome is the shipping timeline. Lead times will increase; so will shipment times. Ocean carriers will set back ports, which will set back ground transportation, which will set back warehousing. We can expect that delays will last through peak shipping season, which runs from June to December.
We are now a full year into the coronavirus, and it is not going away. While the U.S. makes incremental progress with its vaccination program, most of the planet is not keeping pace. That means demand for disposable gloves will remain high for some time. And with many consumers still stuck at home, they will continue ordering goods at a record pace.
It looks as if 2021 is going to be another bumpy ride. We have a substantial amount of gloves ready to ship right now; getting in your order sooner rather than later would be a prudent decision.