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Importers will pay the price for shipping bottlenecks over Christmas, regardless of the reason. According to Customs clearance agency Platinum Freight Management, the onus is on the importer to be prepared where possible and anticipate and plan around issues that might arise.   
Shipping and handling over the holiday season is fraught with set-backs and added costs. Historically proven strike action costs time and budget, public holidays the same.   
Platinum Freight CEO Peter McRae warns importers to anticipate setbacks and know where the added costs might be:  
“The two most commonly experienced freighting and Customs clearance issues facing importers during this critical trading period are: lack of logistics planning that sees stock uncleared over public holidays, and strike action at ports which has historically threatened to disrupt retailers.”  
With Christmas on the horizon, now is the time to make changes to orders and shipping plans.  
The cost of strike action goes beyond the risk of getting stock on shelves too late, but also high wharf storage costs plus container rental fees from their shipping company for every day that the container remains un-emptied.   
While striking is an unknown variable, the best course of avoidance is to book shipments early.   
“Negotiate shipping times with suppliers now to get stock landed before strike action inevitably heats up. The smart importer aims to have stock in transit to warehouse by the first week of December,” McRae advises.  
One equally common setback importers often face is poor planning and lack of a tight logistics schedule addressing public holidays.  
“Businesses should factor in public holidays in their logistics schedule, to land goods before holidays begin. Of course this isn’t always possible for stock replenished frequently over Christmas trade. So for importers this applies to, they know to factor in budget to cover holding fees for days stock is unattended due to dock and Customs worker holiday days.”   
An effective safeguard against delays of this nature is to pre-clear goods before they reach Australia, which ensures little delay through Customs and 
! the opportunity to plan efficient transport options once stock is confirmed landed.   The most at-risk importers for delays in processing over Christmas are firsttime importers. These businesses can expect additional checks on shipments which can set back clearance as much as three to five days. This is unavoidable, so new importers are advised to work forward.  
McRae’s advice to all importers in the lead up to December is simple: “Be organised. Be prepared and plan your imports down to a T. Where possible, ship early, pre-clear goods and factor in an additional budget just in case your goods are caught up in a Christmas bottleneck.” 
Glenn Baker

Professional writer/editor with 35-plus years experience - including radio copywriting, various television writing/production roles, and writing for business magazines. I have also co-owned a wholesale food distribution business.

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