A group representing the nation’s retailers is urging officials with the Port of New York and New Jersey to do something about increasing delays at its terminals.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association has sent a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in response to ongoing productivity issues impairing retailers’ ability to meet due dates on products and cargo moving through the port.

"The disruptions that have been taking place at the port have had damaging consequences on the delivery of retailers’ goods…retailers are concerned that further disruptions will take place, resulting in lost sales, empty shelves, and disappointed customers,” the letter said.

The letter outlines four initiatives the authority and other stakeholders can pursue to alleviate the backlog and restore productivity to port operations:

  • Terminals should staff themselves for a complete two-shift operation, at a minimum, including weekends and holidays until on-dock, gate, and rail operations return.
  • Chassis inspections should be conducted in a safe and reasonable manner that does not place units “out of service” that are not an immediate hazard.
  • The port should assign constant traffic oversight to mitigate the ripple effect of one terminal queue impacting others.
  • Fees that are attributable to the delays caused by the port’s challenges should be suspended until the port operations can return to normal.

Delays at Port of New York and New Jersey have been going on for several months, but have been made worse recently due to extreme winter weather.

RILA said it applauds the port’s recent efforts to proactively organize a broad-based industry task force to recommend overall port improvements, however, it is concerned about the timing since the task force is not scheduled to give a report until June. “Considering the current impact that the port disruption is having on retailers’ supply chains, the situation needs to be alleviated immediately,” the group said.

“In addition to the delays and enormous backlog of cargo, the Port of New York and New Jersey is dealing with significant challenges to its infrastructure and technology and suffers from a lack of workers at the port and terminal to handle the amount of cargo that flows through the port each day,” RILA said.

RILA also shared the letter with the governors of New York and New Jersey, executives at the United States Maritime Alliance, the International Longshoremen’s Association, the New York State Motor Truck Association, the World Shipping Council, the New York Shipping Association and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association.

The move comes as the Port of Virginia has announced the formation of the Motor Carrier Task Force to focus on issues at the state-controlled marine terminals that are affecting the ability of truck drivers to efficiently move cargo in and out of the terminals.