With toys from China stuck at sea, get your holiday shopping done early, experts say

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Thursday, September 16, 2021
Start your holiday shopping extra-early this year, experts advise
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The global pandemic has created massive shipping delays, meaning toys could be scarce late in the holiday season this year.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It may seem like holiday shopping starts earlier and earlier every year. But this year, it might be a good idea to get that list checked off early.

Retailers and experts urge consumers to start their gift shopping early this year because shortages and shipping delays in Los Angeles and elsewhere mean that hard-to-find toys will be extra scarce this year.

The pandemic has left global supply chains a mess. In Southern California, there are more than 60 container ships anchored offshore - a new record - waiting to offload their cargo at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Some of them may have to wait a week or longer before they are allowed to dock and unload.

That means a shortage of global goods, like toys, reaching store shelves.

"Of the 3 billion toys sold in this country 85% of them come from China, so you can see the dependence and reliance our industry has to get their products over here," said Ed Desmond, spokesman for The Toy Association.

Getting them on the shelves means getting them through ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach where ships are backing up.

The pandemic has disrupted the work flow from the factories to local stores.

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"We need more workers on the job," said Gene Seroka with the Port of Los Angeles. "We probably need expanded hours to match up with the work that's being done in other segments of the supply chain."

That will still take time and that has experts suggesting shoppers start checking off their holiday list now.

"The stores right now have a pretty healthy supply," Desmond said. "So if you're out there consumers, now's the time to buy. We just don't know what's gonna happen down the road as we get closer to Christmas."

The holiday shopping season is about to get longer. And maybe more hectic than ever, as merchants and manufacturers scramble to meet demand.