J.B. Hunt Expects Strong Freight Demand to Extend Into 2022

Date: Monday, October 18, 2021
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Freight bellwether J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. expects bottlenecks at West Coast ports to intensify heading into the holidays, with congestion continuing to snarl labor-strapped logistics networks and strong shipping demand extending into 2022.

“While peak season is upon us, we believe the bottlenecks on the West Coast are going to compact and even intensify further peak-season capacity needs into November and December,” Shelley Simpson, J.B. Hunt’s chief commercial officer, said on a conference call Friday to discuss the company’s third-quarter earnings.

Executives speaking on the call attributed much of the broader supply-chain upheaval to a shortage of truck drivers and rail workers, along with labor scarcity at customer warehouses.

The backlog of vessels waiting for berths at gridlocked West Coast ports is adding to the challenges, Ms. Simpson said, and is delaying the delivery of some of the company’s containers that are on ships waiting offshore for berth space at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Ms. Simpson said the company has been asking its retail customers if they believe some products will be missing from store shelves before Christmas. “I think that we’re leaning to a yes, which means there would be more shopping and more retail sales in January and obviously more need for us to replenish any of those goods,” she said.

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