On the positive side, U.S. retail sales were up 3.8 percent for the year, paced by a 15.4 percent gain in e-commerce sales over the previous year. This growth area captured the focus of retail supply chain management professionals as they worked diligently to create seamless omnichannel processes.
On the negative side, retail sales were dampened by protracted congestion at West Coast ports. Despite the best efforts of supply chain teams to divert traffic to alternate ports and modes, many retailers ended the year with millions of dollars' worth of product stuck in transit. Though the labor problems have been resolved, a return to normal operations will take months to complete. In the short run, this situation will continue to divert attention from more productive SCM initiatives.
Despite the periodic challenges created by port issues, transportation capacity and labor shortages, and other disruptors, retail supply chain executives are moving forward with essential investments, infrastructure modifications, and service improvements.
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