STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) - A logjam of cargo ships at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has created a ripple effect felt by retailers, restaurants and, now, the customers they serve.
"There's things we ordered back in January that we still haven't received and may not receive ever," said Jessica Goldfarb, owner of the gift shop Limonaia in Santa Monica.
The backup at the ports, along with a labor shortage and 500,000 containers waiting to be unloaded, has business owners like Goldfarb struggling to meet the needs of their business and customers.
"There's just like layers and layers and layers of things you don't think about, sort of like our shopping bags. Who knew that it would take us now, like usually what would take three months would now take nine months to get custom shopping bags to us from China," she said.
Goldfarb said it's not only overseas inventory that's slow to show or even a no-show nowadays.
"Almost every single vendor that I have, like there is an issue. I do not anticipate that once we receive an order for something that we will ever be able to get it again in 2021," the gift shop owner said.
President of the California Retailers Association, Rachel Michelin, said the pandemic is partly to blame for the backlog, but not entirely.
"This is a national and international problem and, really, part of it is related to COVID, part of its related to consumer spending. There's a lot of different factors engaged. We have issues with, you know, we need to recruit more truckers. We need to recruit more port workers," she said.
Michelin added that the problem is not wholly unexpected.
"That's part of a whole other conversation as why we have such a labor shortage in California. You can attribute that to some of the policies that might have come through because of COVID. I mean, I think it's harder sometimes, you know, to recruit younger people in these types of jobs."
The confluence of these issues is why consumers and business owners are having trouble finding things they normally wouldn't and it may be a frustrating holiday season where even common items might be limited editions.
"We get daily emails from people, from our vendors, saying, 'Sorry about this, like we know you ordered this for Christmas, but we are not going to receive it. So, you're not going to receive it,'" Goldfarb said.
The California Retailers Association and some of its biggest members are meeting with port managers next week to see how they can help things along.
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