Record Snowfall at Major FedEx Hub Caused Even More Shipping Delays in Another Setback for Shippers
FedEx is facing prolonged delays due to winter storms at its Memphis hub last month. The centrally positioned Memphis location is FedEx’s largest shipping hub, chosen in part due to the nearby Memphis International Airport rarely being closed due to winter weather.
But, “rare” does not mean “never,” and 10 inches of snow in back-to-back snowstorms made for the snowiest four-day period in Memphis since before FedEx was founded. According to Commercial Appeal, about 11,000 FedEx employees couldn’t get to work.
The company shifted some of the work to its Indianapolis hub, the second-largest after Memphis, but delays persisted.
“We continue to make good progress on recovering from the impacts of the winter storm,” FedEx said in a statement last week.
But, in the meantime, FedEx users have had to find workarounds to ensure their packages get delivered on time.
One customer told the Wall Street Journal that she drove 45 minutes to Atlanta’s airport and paid $136 to make sure a package would get to New Orleans in two days. But, even with all of that extra work and money, it took more than a week.
“We deeply regret the impact this has had on our customers,” a spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal. “And we are working with them to resolve any delivery issues.”
FedEx says its Memphis hub should be mostly back to normal operations, but it was yet another setback for shippers. Exploding e-commerce volume during the pandemic has led to record numbers of packages handled by FedEx and UPS, resulting in delays and longer transit times. The major shippers have also added or increased surcharges, making shipping more expensive.
And these are just a few of the ways the pandemic has stretched the global supply chain, with direct and immediate impacts for promo businesses. Record congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has caused major backups, while slower ground shipping has meant that companies need to rely on more expensive air shipping to get orders to customers on time. FedEx Express
Distributors and suppliers can’t control the weather, nor can they magically make the effects of the pandemic go away overnight. But shipping delays and higher prices will likely continue to be an issue, making it an ongoing challenge to get products products to customers. That issue is exacerbated by once-in-a-generation weather events like the one in Memphis.
“We are advised to add an additional 14 days minimum into ocean supply chain forecasts,” Dan Taylor, president of BamBams, told Promo Marketing in our longform look at COVID's supply chain impacts. “Distributors need to be aware when planning for their larger import orders this year. It will likely be the end of 2021 for things to return to normal.”