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Record Backlog At Ports Of LA, Long Beach Hurting Small Businesses

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The ongoing bottleneck of cargo ships at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is starting to have major negative effects on small local businesses.

The Evergreen cargo ship "Ever Liberal" filled with containers is seen at the Port of Los Angeles on October 6, 2021 in San Pedro, California. - A record number of cargo ships have been stuck in limbo off the southern California coast waiting for entry to either the Ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach and Federal transportation investigators say premilinary findings suggest the recent oil spill off the southern California coast may have been caused by a ship's anchor hooking and tearing the pipeline that transports oil from platforms out at sea to the Port of Long Beach. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Business owner Nektar Petroff says she's seeing major delays in receiving the merchandise she needs for her online store, Most Fun Toys, because of the ongoing supply chain problems.

"Waiting and waiting and waiting," Petroff told CBSLA Monday.

Petroff is one of many retailers facing shipping delays and scrambling to get what they need for the fast-approaching holiday season.

Last week, officials say there could be as many as half-a-million shipping containers on cargo ships off the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, waiting to be offloaded. The bottleneck is due partly to the shortage of warehouse workers and truck drivers to pick up goods.

"Before, when I got it within 25 to 30 days by ship, now I can get it within two months, it takes much more," Petroff said.

Not only is it taking longer to get the toys she needs to sell and donate to children's hospitals, organizations and orphanages, it's costing Petroff more to get the merchandise here.

"For example, I paid $100 for two cartons, or two boxes of toys, but for shipping, I paid about $300," Petroff said.

Rachel Michelin, president and CEO of the California Retailers Association, says small and mid-size retailers are being hit hardest from the bottleneck.

"You see some of the bigger national retailers are chartering planes to get products into the state and to the country," Michelin said.

"We're seeing small businesses, unfortunately, not being able to get their merchandise in time for the holiday season, so we're really starting to see the effects of this and pretty soon the consumers will as well," she adds.

According to Michelin, consumers should not wait to buy what they want because there is no guarantee they'll be able to find it again. She also believes state lawmakers need to do more to address and resolve the supply chain issues.

"We need to get the governor, in particular, to engage on this; we need local elected officials and the legislature to engage on this and work together to try to find solutions," Michelin said.

"I am not making money on my business right now, I am mostly just losing and making kids happy," Petroff said.

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