Yesterday I had a customer call to buy a fairly standard product, but one, which we don’t usually stock; M12 A4 stainless full nuts. I contacted my normal supplier, who had no stock whatsoever. By the fourth supplier I was starting to worry, thankfully the fifth had some stock. The problem being, that this is becoming the norm. Furthermore, the prices of “low stock” items are climbing fast, as we’ve seen in construction, with steel and cement.
So what is happening? Well if you’ve been into a supermarket lately, you’ll have seen the empty shelves, the lack of specific stock, like ice cream or toilet rolls. The same is true of the fasteners industry.
There appear to be a number of factors, starting with the impact of Covid on world trade:
- There are fewer container vessels, old ones scrapped and new ones not ordered.
- Containers are in short supply and often in the wrong place.
- Ports are congested, with insufficient storage space.
- There is a lack of HGV drivers.
- Demand is outstripping supply as the western world comes out of COvid restrictions.
Similar to other industries, Fasteners are mainly imported from Asia, with long lead times. When Covid hit, demand collapsed and suppliers, like us, had no orders, so cut back on their own supplies, consequently, selling out of stock. As things started to return to normal, orders were made, but the flow of goods had stopped, leading to “holes” in supply.
So what does all this mean for you, our customer?
- Whilst we are making every effort to ensure continuity of supply, you could help us by advising what your needs are likely to be over the coming months. This will help us to back up our own stocks.
- Where there are more bespoke items, we would suggest that you order well in advance (3 months) to ensure continuity.
- Prices are going up across the board, so early ordering will help us to keep prices stabilised.
- Be prepared for increased prices, given the conditions!