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Retailers Are Creating Their Own Off-Site Container Storage Areas To Alleviate Shipping Woes

Retailers are beginning to store containers at their own off-site lots to improve cargo flows at ports.

Retailers are taking some of the bite out of the global supply chain crisis with overflow yards — temporary container-storage areas near ports meant to speed up the transportation of their own goods.

Walmart, for one, is processing more than 500 containers per day at a vacant lot it leased four weeks ago near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Joe Metzger, Walmart executive vice president of supply chain operations, said in a LinkedIn post. The move has increased container processing flow by 51% in the mega-retailer's Southern California ports, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Monday in a meeting at the White House.

Such lots enable retailers to move containers faster, preventing them from being buried under piles of cargo at congested ports. Several other retailers have also secured lots near congested ports and continue to seek space, FreightWaves reported.

In addition to its lot in California, Walmart has a temporary lot at the Port of Savannah in Georgia where other retailers have followed suit and opened their own container-storage areas, officials told FreightWaves. The off-dock yard model isn't new, but was previously only used by ocean carriers and logistics companies, FreightWaves reported.

Walmart intends to use the container-storage areas for the foreseeable future, a spokesperson told FreightWaves. FedEx’s logistics arm is also extending its own container-storage area program to other cargo users, its CEO said. 

The lots are part of combined public and private efforts to alleviate the global shipping crisis and come a month after President Joe Biden announced 24/7 operations at the Port of Los Angeles, which handles 40% of all incoming shipping containers to the U.S. The Port of Long Beach last year used 49 acres nearby as a staging area for containers but maxed out its space, leaving users little room to spread out in the airtight area industrial market.