The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been dealing with unresolved issues for months now. More than 100 ships remain anchored at the ports despite recent actions made by the state government to try and ease the strain on the supply chain. (Related: California temporarily increases weight limit for trucks in bid to resolve port congestion crisis.)
The massive backlogs in California are preventing many retailers from fully stocking up on toy gifts for Christmas. One report stated that some manufacturers are prioritizing soft toys over wooden toys, play kitchens and other similar products because it is easier to pack more of them into shipping containers.
Some of the other products being prioritized because of their small size are headphones and slippers. Larger products like television sets and hiking boots are being sent to the United States in smaller quantities because of the difficulties in transporting them.
The logjam of products at the ports has caused a shortage of toys, especially those that are normally donated to charities for children in need.
In the New Image Emergency Shelter in Los Angeles, Executive Director Brenda Wilson recently showed a media outlet one of the shelter's empty storage spaces that is usually filled with goods for the annual Children's Christmas Store.
The event provides around 2,000 children from low-income and homeless families a space to shop for toys, shoes and clothing. The charity even gives the families supermarket gift cards.
"This day belongs to the children. We want them to forget about that they live in an encampment, we want them to forget about if they're in a shelter. This is your day," said Wilson. "So we are scrambling worse than we did last year to try to get enough toys. We need at least 40,000 toys."
According to Linda Moran, co-founder of the shelter and twin sister of Wilson, around 63 percent of the toys the shelter was supposed to get this year from two of its largest donors are still stuck in containers at the Port of Long Beach.
She has been in contact with port officials who told her there is nothing they can do, and the toys might be stuck there for several months. "Their explanation was there are taxes being raised so they're not going to be able to get it to us until after Christmas," said Moran.
Toys for Tots, a charity drive organized by local members of the Marine Corps Reserve in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has prepared for the shortages early.
"We saw this shortage coming back in spring, so I knew I had to act early," said Kevin J. Miller, coordinator for Bucks County's Toys for Tots drive. "Our vendors were sending us messages that there'd be a good possibility there'd be supply chain issues this year. Some of us took the hint. I had the foresight to purchase thousands of dollars in toys back in August."
Miller explained that most of his vendors have electronic catalogs, and he did all of his shopping online.
"Saw what was currently available in warehouses, made my order, and sent it to my contacts there. My vendors are holding the toys for me until I ask for them. Now it's just a matter of funding the purchases."
According to Miller, he spent about $20,000 to fund the toy purchases. With or without reaching his goal of getting all his money back, Miller and his team in Bucks County have pledged to soldier on for the children.
"We need toys for kids whose families need some help," he said. "We're hoping to reach more families this year. But supply chain issues being what they are, it could be tough. We need to keep in mind those parents that are struggling to make ends meet. I can't imagine a child on Christmas asking why Santa didn't come."
First, Madan suggests that shoppers should make their purchases as early as possible.
Second, to avoid supply chain constraints, shoppers should consider buying gifts made domestically or locally. "U.S.-based supply chains are running better than global ones, and hence, local products could be more readily available than foreign-made ones," she wrote for the Augusta Free Press.
Third, if gift recipients really want a specific product that may be out of stock, Madan suggests that shoppers can purchase gift cards for the company or retailer that sells the specific product. "They might have to wait a bit longer for that cherished item, but it's better than something they do not want or like."
Learn more about how the supply chain crisis is affecting American holidays at Collapse.news.