Experts urge consumers to start holiday shopping now amid supply chain problems

COVID-19 shutdowns in Asia triggered shipping and production delays, which in turn created a shortage in shipping containers.
LOS ANGELES -- An onslaught of manufacturing and cargo disruptions are threatening shipping delays and epic shortages for in-demand products, and retail experts are urging consumers to start their holiday shopping now.

"We're witnessing a pandemic-induced buying surge by the American consumer, the likes of which we've never seen," said Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

A spiraling global crisis began with COVID-19 shutdowns in Asia. Recently, China experienced its worst coronavirus outbreak in a year, spurring authorities to take dramatic measures to stop new infections, including locking down cities, canceling flights and suspending trade.

This drove up shipping and production delays, which in turn created a shortage in shipping containers.

The problem was compounded by limited warehouse space, trucking issues and labor shortages.

"There are shortages across a number of industries, perhaps nowhere more so than in frontline workers such as port workers and truck drivers," said Aaron Terrazas, the director of economic research at Convoy Inc., where he researches freight markets.

Now, companies like Costco, Walmart and Home Depot are taking matters into their own hands, renting out their own shipping containers and looking for different ports of entry, he said.

"They're looking for ways around the shortage in order to get the consumers the goods that they're demanding," Terrazas said.

More container freights that would typically enter through Long Beach are being redirected to Oakland, Vancouver, Savannah or Houston, in order to circumvent the delays.

While it could take upwards of a month to continue to untangle the global mess, port officials in Long Beach said they have extended operating hours, including working weekends.

And experts reiterated a now resounding message to start shopping the holiday season early.

ABC News contributed to this report.
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