All we’re missing at the moment is a volcanic eruption in Iceland and that’ll top off an interesting and challenging few days. Perhaps it’s best not to speak too soon because the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland has been threatening to cause major travel disruption for the last couple of months so we’ve got everything crossed that it won’t add to the current list of woes.
We’re a UK based supplier of promotional USB memory sticks and like all other suppliers around the world our core products are manufactured in China. For the most part this is not a problem because we’ve been sourcing products from 2 – 3 key partners for the last 10 years or more so we understand very well the issues and the risks. Until a few days ago our standard lead times of 5-7 days were still being honoured but right now things are very different and the outlook is that it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
The usual delays we expect at this time of year (because of the National Holiday and Golden Week) have been exacerbated and extended. The underlying cause is a range of issues all colliding together to create on monster challenge.
The elements that are at play are a major money laundering operation/scare out of Shenzen and Hong Kong which in turn has led to a regime where customs are now being instructed to be undertake more rigorous checks of all packages. This in turn inevitably leads to delays and backlogs and all of this is happening in the run up to the National Day and Golden Week holiday when the couriers, airlines and customs departments are placed under more pressure to get shipments out before the holidays start.
Add into this mix some of the crazy weather that has been experienced in Hong Kong and Shenzen over the last week (leading to flight cancellations and delays) and you start to get a picture of the near “meltdown” that’s happening.
Of course whilst all of this is going on we have the vote for Scottish Independence taking place oday. This is driving uncertainty into the financial markets and pushing the value of the pound (£) down against the dollar ($) – the net effect of which is to increase the cost of any USB sticks that are able to run the gauntlet of getting out of China!
The only saving grace in all of this is that we’ve been around long enough to anticipate some of these issues so we have lots of blank USB sticks in stock in the UK which we can print or engrave and turn around in 1 – 2 days. As a result we will endeavour to ensure all of our customers get USB sticks for their event. They may not be exactly the model they wanted but at least we’ll be able to offer something!