Christmas in America may be ruined by a shipping company

first_imgIt’s quite normal to take Christmas for granted isn’t it? We all panic shop in December to ensure we have presents for everyone, then open the presents we receive on Christmas morning before eating way too much and collapsing in front of the TV. One thing that we never think will happen is those shops we panic by at not having any stock. But for Christmas 2016 that may just happen.And I’m not just talking about one or two popular Christmas gadgets being out of stock, I’m talking about lots of them being missing. The reason? Hanjin Shipping–the seventh largest container line in the world–has filed for receivership. At any time Hanjin has container ships full of shiny new products traveling around the world. And there in lies the problem.Image via Daryl Mitchell on FlickrWith the company in financial difficulty, no port wants to let its heavily laden ships dock because Hanjin either can’t pay the millions required in docking and unloading fees, or the creditors will take the opportunity to impound each vessel meaning the port has just lost some of its capacity and it could remain that way for months.Right now, 66 of Hanjin’s container ships are effectively stranded at sea. On board is around $14.5 billion worth of goods waiting to reach their destinations. The reason Christmas may see empty shelves is because a good portion of the cargo is electronics goods heading for North America.The shipping company’s parent, Hanjin Group, needs to find $270 million to cover the docking and unloading fees of these stricken ships. So far it has only guaranteed $90 million of that with no sign of the rest being found. It’s not like another shipping company can step in and help either, as they are all struggling to survive thanks to the state of the world’s economies and how much spare capacity there is making prices crash to all time lows.Hopefully the Hanjin Shipping problem gets sorted, and sorted soon so the goods those 66 ships are carrying get to their destination in time for the holidays. But then, if it can happen to Hanjin, it can happen to any of the other shipping companies, including the six that are larger than Hanjin.2016: the year when buying Christmas presents early makes even more sense than every other year.Hanjin container ship image courtesy of Ingrid Taylar on Flickrlast_img