Diamond Comic Distributors has notified its customers that it is gaining ground on a large reorder backlog that has put it nearly a month behind.  The backup is in what Diamond calls "replenishment orders," which are orders formerly combined with weekly new product shipments.  As of Tuesday, August 4, replenishment orders placed before July 8 have been processed, and Diamond hopes to combine two weeks’ worth of reorders in future shipments, allowing it to process reorders placed by the July 15 and July 22 cutoffs together, and orders placed by the July 29 and August 5 reorder cutoffs together, perhaps even including a third week, reorders placed by the August 12 deadline, in that batch.

Diamond changed its shipping process for replenishment orders in mid-March.  Rather than combining the reorders with weekly new product shipments, Diamond began shipping the orders directly to retailers, while charging them freight as if the two shipments had gone together.  The process change reduced mis-shipments and damages and was generally considered a success.  But after only a couple of weeks of the new process, Diamond shut down at the end of March and did not re-open until mid-May, with all the disruptions that the shutdown and resulting new product backlog caused impacting distribution center operations.

The problems have existed since Diamond restarted operations with products scheduled for release May 20.  Since that time, it has been able to maintain its weekly shipping schedule for new products, despite considerable staffing problems related to the need for safety and social distancing in its warehouses, at times leading to staffing levels only 50% of normal levels (see "Diamond DCs Operating With Limited Personnel").

Diamond’s most challenging labor problems have likely been in its Olive Branch, Mississippi distribution center, near Memphis.  Mississippi is a hot zone, with new COVID-19 case rates among the highest in the country.  Last week, Mississippi governor Tate Reeves extended the executive order mandating masks and strict social distancing rules for the most seriously affected counties, including Desoto County, where Olive Branch is located.