Getting goods from Asia to retail distribution centers has been a continuing struggle for the toy industry and other consumer products companies. There are simply not enough containers to meet demand. When they are available on the spot market, the costs are a record-high $4,000 plus per container.
Domestic shipping, particularly in the United States, has received less attention, but it similarly a challenge for toy companies and retailers. There are not enough trailers and drivers to meet demand, and the challenges may become long-standing. Here is how Bloomberg Supply Lines puts it in its November 11, 2020 newsletter:
The North American trucking industry has had its own year of firsts, with record demand to haul goods, capacity constraints and the pandemic all making the roadways much tougher to navigate. The surging need for road freight has exacerbated yet another issue: not enough qualified drivers in an era of stricter drug tests.
According to the article, driving is an aging industry. Bloomberg states that: “The average age of a driver is 46, according to the American Trucking Association, and more than 55% are 45 or older.”
I have to say that I was astounded by the average age. Why aren’t young people entering a profession that has, for decades is not centuries, provided a good living for drivers of trucks and before that horses? According to Bloomberg, the coronavirus has forced the closing of driving schools or limited student access. That seems to have been a near-term problem. Perhaps, younger adults simply don’t have a love for the open road. Maybe, its a computer console that provides them with a fix for their wanderlust.
The advent of driver-less trucks may just be coming at the right time as young people opt to stay out of the driver seat.