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Have you started your holiday shopping?  Supply chain issues could impact northern Alabama retailers

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – It’s almost three months until Christmas, but logistics and business experts say it might not be a bad idea to start your holiday shopping now.

Indeed, global supply chain issues could mean that many products may not be readily available as the holidays approach.

Susan Blevins of The Toy Place in downtown Huntsville says she started having problems getting products delivered last year amid the pandemic. She believed that when COVID-19 vaccines were readily available, things would improve.

However, this was not the case. Now she worries that she won’t have enough toys to stock the shelves for the holidays.

“I started restocking my store in January,” Blevins said. “I had many products out of stock. Most of them have arrived, but I have some out-of-stock products since March. And there is no estimated arrival date.

Global supply chain expert Nick Vyas told CBS News the problem starts overseas. In many countries from which the United States imports, limited access to COVID-19 vaccines has forced many factories to close to prevent further spread of the virus.

“We have this global participation of the workforce – supply side activities, manufacturing, transportation. But for these things to work, people have to be immune, ”Vyas said.

However, the problems don’t end when the products finally arrive in the United States. Joey Bishop of Arab Cartage & Express told News 19 that many of their truck drivers have to wait hours for products to be unloaded from their trucks.

He says it’s because many of the companies they deliver to don’t have enough employees to unload the trucks. Often times, delays mean that drivers miss scheduled deliveries and have to reschedule them for the next day.

In the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, hundreds of freighters carrying 500,000 containers are waiting to be unloaded. There are simply not enough dockworkers to unload the cargo. Almost 40% of US imports arrive through these two facilities.

To add to the problem, demand and spending are at peaks in the pandemic era. According to the City of Huntsville’s FY22 budget, sales tax revenue for FY21 is up 9% from FY20.

Suggestion of Blevins? Start shopping now.

“I don’t want to scare people,” she said. “But for some of those big ticket items, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and start now. I don’t see him getting better until the holidays.