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Shipping delays give shops grief

Richard Mason says customers buying car parts for summer may face long wait times. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

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Wairarapa car owners are facing increased wait times for parts due to global supply shortages.

Covid-19 lockdowns have resulted in many auto stores missing the parts necessary for repairs.

“Parts supply is a major issue in our industry right now,” said Richard Mason, owner of Toms Autos in Masterton.

And suppliers have told him that the situation is only going to get worse.

European vehicle parts had been particularly hard to source.

Before covid-19, Mason said his business could access engine parts for European vehicles in about a week. More recently it had taken four weeks for the same parts to arrive.

“It’s having quite a strong influence on our business,” Mason said.

Across the road, Jock Mathewson of CE Spray Collision Repairs said that all brands had been equally affected.

“It’s hard to pinpoint one brand from another,” another mechanic said.

The business had experienced wait times of eight to 12 weeks for parts from overseas.

Mason had noticed huge interest from customers wanting to buy roof-racks and bull-bars from his store. “People really want to do stuff in New Zealand this summer.”

However, his business has had to wait more than a month for these parts to come in from Asian countries impacted by covid-19.

Meanwhile, even his Australian suppliers have faced backlogs due to trouble getting products off wharves into New Zealand.

“Typically speaking, I find Wairarapa is pretty well serviced,” Mason said.

But after lockdown, freight of large parts to Wairarapa had taken slightly longer than the rest of New Zealand, as couriers were overwhelmed.

No one expected demand for parts to be so high in the wake of lockdowns around the world, Mason said.

He said that auto businesses had imagined a greater economic collapse, which would result in people tightening their wallets.

“All of them [the businesses] were in the same boat.

“No one had this magic wand of product hiding up their sleeve.”

Manufacturing had fallen behind – and by the time it caught up with demand, shipping became the main issue.

Global demand for shipping containers had skyrocketed due to a reduced manufacturing capacity.

“The strong demand has also led to increased container prices,” said shipping container company Triton International in their third quarter report this year.

Suppliers have told Mason to expect price rises as they factor in extra freight costs. Individual car parts would cost more as a result.

“It’s not something we have a lot of control over,” Mason said.

Mathewson said all his customers had been very understanding of the increased wait times.

“As Kiwis, we’re all very accepting of it. No one’s getting out of bed about it.”

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