COVID-19 - supply problems persist

Monday 15th March 2021

A year has passed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and although we are able to supply most orders from local stock, international freight problems continue to cause disruption and mean that we can't always fill your orders as quickly as we'd like.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented disruption to international air freight - to put it in perspective, this is by far the most significant disruption experienced in air freight since it became an important part of the international trading economy. There are still almost no international passenger flights meaning that air freight capacity is a fraction of pre-pandemic levels, leading to many delays, painfully high air freight prices and regular cancellations. This led many of our suppliers to switch to sea freight last year which means an out of stock title can take 3-4 months instead of 2-3 weeks!

We had hoped that as things started to return to normal the situation would improve but so far that just has not happened. An increase in international trade without a corresponding increase in freight capacity has just put more stress on an already struggling system. We are seeing long delays with sea freight, particularly coming from the USA and UK. Out of desperation we, any many others, have tried to switch some of our sea freight back to air freight but all that does is further clog up the already overloaded air freight, leading to more delays there. It is a lose-lose situation at the moment.

As yet there has also been no sign of improvement in turnaround from our US and UK publishers who, to varying degrees, have all been impacted by the high levels of COVID-19 infections and the resulting shutdowns, changes in working practices and general chaos.

The painful reality is that things will not return to normal until international air travel restarts in earnest - and that looks to still be some way off.



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