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Historic backup at Port of Oakland could be bad news for consumers

Cargo ships backlogged for weeks
Cargo ships backlogged for weeks 02:02

A record number of cargo ships are anchored in San Francisco Bay, waiting to unload their containers at the Port of Oakland, reports CBS San Francisco. The backup extends up and down the West Coast – and it's pandemic-related.

All are carrying multiple containers full of goods, so those items may take a little while longer to arrive in stores and at your front door.

Experts predict the trend to continue through the summer and if that happens, it could realistically last the rest of the year as the demand for imports increases during the holidays.

"We set a historic record. We have never seen anything like this before. It's unprecedented," Port of Oakland spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur told CBS San Francisco, adding that it's the busiest time in port's 94-year history.

"Whenever you see container ships anchoring out in the bay, know that is unusual," she said.

Sandifur says the containers on the ships are loaded with items such as gym equipment, furniture and electronics, as consumers loosen their wallets with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic apparently in sight. The backup of cargo ships extends up and down the West Coast.

Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, the maker of the hit LOL Surprise Doll line, is waiting for his shipment to arrive in Los Angeles. "We have 445 containers sitting around the water," he says.

Experts explain a near post-pandemic buying boom isn't the only factor. Part of the problem is ports aren't fully staffed because of the pandemic. Plus, this isn't just about imports. The Port of Oakland says 97,000 containers have come in recently but 94,000 are going out, carrying a lot of agricultural products to Asia.

Sandifur says, "We're not only seeing a big import surge. This demand for goods is happening around the world. So we're exporting quite a bit of goods, as well."

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