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It's Not Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas: Stress, Delays On Global Supply Chain Leave Businesses Scrambling

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois' largest Christmas showroom, Treetime Christmas Creations in Lake Barrington, isn't immune to the global supply chain bottlenecks that escalated over the summer.

"These racks, normally on this date in this season, would be completely filled all the way to the ceiling," said Joe Kane, who owns Treetime with his wife, Laurie. "Normally we would have everything stocked in house and actually we haven't received even a single tree for this season."

Empty Shelves
Empty shelves at Treetime Christmas Creations.

The global pipeline that sends, clothes, toys, electronics and, yes, Christmas decorations, into the United States is clogged. Problems that started when the coronavirus pandemic shut down everything are continuing. There are currently about 100 cargo ships docked off the California coast.

Currently, at Treetime, the shelves are empty, just as the holiday shopping season is heading into full swing.

Christmas Supplies
Decorations, like this reindeer, may be hard to find.

That has led Laurie and Joe Kane to go to extreme — and expensive — lengths to get their containers out of the jam-packed ports throughout the country.

Ships Stuck
Ports are clogged with shipping containers.

"It's literally four or five times the amount of money per tree to bring it in this year," Joe said.

The picture is a bit different down the street at Outdoor Interiors, their warehouse is packed but months too late.

President Tim Cimaglio has plenty of inventory in stock but his business is outdoor furniture.

"We lost truly millions of dollars in business. Millions," Cimaglio said.

Outdoor Furniture
There is plenty of inventory of outdoor furniture at Outdoor Interiors--which was delivered well after the summer season. (CBS)

But most of his shipments came too late for his busy season.

"The reality of life is when it gets stuck here whether its a week, two weeks, in our case we're getting containers that have been there for months and that is not sustainable because we need that product — actually we needed that product," Cimaglio said.

"Frankly, I don't think its sustainable."

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association tells CBS 2 there are manpower shortages, container shortages, and limits on trucks and trains

"There's only so much you can push through the supply chain pipeline without expanding that," said Rob Karr, President & CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association. "It's stretched thin due to increased demand. It's been that way for months — and it will take many more months to work its way through."

Karr's message to customers: start buying and reserving holiday items now.

"We're taking the preorders so when they trees do come 'just in the Nick of time,' we'll have the tree reserved for you," said Laurie Kane.

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