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New York Times

Americans are shopping. These workers are overwhelmed.

A pile of freight containers tells us a lot about how people spent a year at home during a pandemic. For families busy with refurbishment, there was a living room set for Bob’s discount furniture. Kitchen appliances for new home buyers. An espresso machine for coffee lovers who have become their own barista. And the sparkling wine cases from France, Spain and Italy are for those who can afford to drink more and indulge while pouring. An extraordinary surge in household cargo broke records in New York Harbor and New Jersey. This is a vast network of docks, terminals and open storage areas that span half a dozen sites. Moved 755,437 standard freight containers in October alone. This is the busiest month in the history of the port, which has been handling freight containers since the 1960s. Sign up for the morning newsletter from The New York Times. “There has never been such a thing,” said Bethan Rooney, deputy director of port operations. “Cargo has arrived in the country with tremendous force.” Operated by the Port Authority of New York and the port authority of New Jersey, the port is the largest on the east coast and the third largest in the country. Cargo volumes from August to December 2020 increased by up to 23% each month compared to the same month in 2019. Cargo volume in January increased by 17% year-on-year, so there was no post-holiday decline this winter. It rose 7% in February, hitting a new high for the month. When the pandemic began buying spree among U.S. consumers, it disrupted world shipping and on the logistic of cargo moving between continents in colorful metal boxes stacked like Tetris game pieces. Created a challenge. The shortage of freight containers has caused widespread delays, and in some US ports, including Los Angeles, the virus has delayed operations by sickening workers and truck drivers and forcing them to quarantine. However, the shipping boom turned out to be a bright spot for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The port is the only part of a broad portfolio of agencies that thrived during the pandemic, including the region’s three major airports, the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, the PATH train, and the intersection of six bridges and tunnels. Initially, monthly cargo volumes declined during the pandemic’s heyday due to factory and store closures, but shoppers opened their wallets and manufacturers and retailers refilled their shelves to anticipate future closures. Due to scrambling, it started to increase in August. Nevertheless, the surge in cargo volume has increased traffic and congestion at the port, increasing equipment and supplies. This port is the gateway to cargo that crosses not only the northeast, but also the Midwest and parts of Canada. And that was before the giant container ship Evergiven was stuck on the Suez Canal for nearly a week, causing traffic jams, delaying some ships to New York and New York Harbors, and causing a temporary ascent. .. By freight when the ship finally arrives. “We are now at the limit,” Rooney said. “This will be our normal at least in the first half of this year, and unless everyone is willing to predict at this point.” Still, the increase in port revenue is the number of passengers at the airport. It was not enough to offset the much greater economic loss of government agencies due to the sharp decline in the number of cars and trucks in bridges and tunnels. According to Rooney, the Port Authority predicts that it will lose $ 3 billion in revenue between March 2020 and March 2022. From the room. Many companies that brought in imports during the pandemic had no place to put their imports because the warehouses were full and the port did not have its own warehouse. As a result, the port dispatched scouts to find more than 70 off-site warehouses and parking lots available for storage in New Jersey and Connecticut, and authorities helped connect the companies to these sites. As a result, the harbor was able to keep the dock clean rather than clogged with cargo. Even before the pandemic, port authorities faced increased volumes as a result of regional population growth, according to Rooney, who had developed expansion plans, including the construction of rail infrastructure to move cargo. It was. There is also a need to extend port opening hours to nights and weekends. (Some terminal operators have already added Saturday time during the pandemic.) Throughout New York and New Jersey, the top categories of shipments and imports during the pandemic were beverages, spirits and vinegar. According to Mabel Ng, director of product management at IHS Markit, which tracks shipments through the Global Trade Atlas database, total volume in the second half of 2020 increased by more than 9% year-on-year. As people became home bartenders, shipments of wine, vermouth, hard cider and mead, cordial and liqueur all increased significantly. Demand for non-alcoholic beverages such as flavored bottled water and milk-based beverages was also increasing. Imports of furniture, bedding, cushions and lamps surged nearly 35% in the second half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, reflecting the boom in home decor. The increase included wooden furniture used in kitchens and bedrooms, metal frame seats, mattresses and supports, desks, tables and floor lamps. Approximately 117,000 tonnes of plastic table and kitchen utensils shipped to the port in the second half of last year increased by 12.5% ​​year-on-year due to spending so much time cooking, baking and eating at home. For Brooklyn Marketing Director Jeannie Kim, 31, it was a good opportunity to upgrade to a Nespresso coffee machine that uses capsules. “Previously it wasn’t really a priority because it was confused with a coffee shop,” she said. “In the quarantine, I work from home, so I felt it was justified to invest in a better machine, as it is now the only source of coffee.” People are also scattered around other drinks. I will. Peter Rigevsky, vice president of the Breakthrough Beverage Group, a wholesale beverage distributor with increasing shipments of premium wines and spirits such as French, Italian and Spanish wines, French champagne and cognac, is often premium. He states that he has switched to an imported brand. “We have this whole experiment and experience with brands that people haven’t tried before,” Lijewski said. “It’s like trying a new sport or a new restaurant. You may not have bought $ 25 wine before, but you’ve tried it. Wow, it’s really delicious.” Others For them, the pandemic was an opportunity to reimagine their home. Bob’s Discount Furniture, a nationwide chain of 140 stores, has been busier than ever with the highest demand for living room sets such as sofas and sectionals, followed by bedroom sets. Carol Glazer, the company’s chief merchandising officer, said: “Furniture is a comfortable food for the home.” The surge in home sales due to kitchen and laundry room remodeling and the move of city dwellers to the suburbs has also led to LG refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers. We helped to “double-digit increase” in shipments. According to John I. Taylor, Senior Vice President of LG Electronics USA, from a factory in Asia. “We haven’t seen this level of demand in the industry and the factory is working overtime,” Taylor said. He added that the company is also importing more TVs, computer monitors and laptops as people spend more time working, studying, or just relaxing at home. 29-year-old Hattie Kolp is one of the fixer uppers who is driving the surge in freight transport. Her home improvement project in a stable rented Upper West Side apartment helped attract more than 32,000 followers on Instagram. When Colp, a special education teacher at Harlem’s school, began working at home, she turned her guest’s bedroom into an office with an Asian-made green velvet sofa and bookshelf ordered online. At some point, she tracked a couch across the Pacific Ocean to a west coast port in a freight container before traveling overland to Manhattan. “I think it just shows that few are manufactured in the United States,” she said. “It really draws attention to how far things move to reach us.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company