There is no sign of an easing in the world container crisis; in fact, it’s exacerbating. The problems, currently taking a stranglehold of ports in Asia, have sent waves all the way across to the UK amusements and gaming sector. There are no ships riding those waves, just a message: price rises and machine shortages are coming.
It’s a depressing story that has been reported countless times, to no avail; there has been little rearguard action taken by the government to address the issue.
And so, in the words of veteran manufacturer and distributor John Stergides of Electrocoin, it’s time to make provisions for the fall-out. “It’s just more bad news. The prices of containers are going up day by day, and now containers are costing $20,000 dollars, plus local deliveries adding a further $2,000. Sometimes the shipping is costing more than the machine,” he told Coinslot this week.
With long delays a taken, Stergides doesn’t really need confirmation, but he got it recently and pretty harshly too; his latest order for DDR will be delayed until next year.
Going into the exhibition season – ACOS is barely ten weeks away – availability and price uncertainty is not what the industry needed. And Stergides is very aware of that problem: “It’s going to be difficult to sustain the supply of machines, and you know arcades and FECs need new games to keep the customers coming back.”
Identifying where the latest link in the supply chain has broken is proving an easy task. Asia port operations have been impacted by a combination of renewed outbreaks of Covid-19, connected lockdowns and extreme weather events, resulting in staff shortages and delays that were already hitting amusements industry imports. This has now been compounded by increased Covid protocols at Chinese ports which have led to more congestion, and concerns over the possible fall-out from a wider or extended lockdown in China are increasing.
The impact is sweeping through the UK supply sector with Paul Williams at Sega and Gary Stern at Stern Pinball also warning that freight prices “remains our biggest problem”. Williams said in an interview: “The cost of freight and availability of freight support is very significant. Pre-pandemic, the cost of a container from China to the UK or the US was around US$4,000. Only last week we were quoted $33,000 and with no guarantee of getting the vessel that we wanted.”