(Bloomberg) -- Semiconductor lead times, the gap between ordering a chip and taking delivery, increased to 16 weeks in March, indicating shortages of these components are intensifying, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group.

The industry charts lead times as an indicator of the balance between supply and demand. Rising levels suggest customers are rushing to secure extra chips. If lead times climb too much, analysts worry that some buyers are purposely over-ordering to avoid potential supply shortfalls. That can lead to inventory accumulation followed by a steep drop in demand.

“While bookings appear red-hot for semis near term, we are growing more cautious over the long-term as the industry may be over-shipping to true demand,” Susquehanna analyst Chris Rolland wrote in research note Wednesday.

At 16 weeks on average, lead times are now well above the previous peak in 2018 which heralded a year of declining industry sales in 2019.

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