NEW YORK (WABC) -- There is growing concern over the number of empty store shelves coast to coast -- in part because of a backup of cargo ships that are unable to dock due to a lack of workers.
And with the holiday season fast approaching, some worry the problem could impact holiday gifts as store shelves start to collect dust.
The major malfunction is shipping. Vessels that move raw materials and finished products around the world are right now, according to Business Insider, not moving.
About two dozen cargo ships and tankers could be seen Tuesday night anchored outside New York's busiest ports waiting to unload.
A similar bottleneck is choking the West Coast with more than 60 ships unable to dock. Why? We're told there are not enough workers thanks to the pandemic.
And even when the containers are taken off the vessels, there are not enough truck drivers to bring them to the stores.
"If you want something under the Christmas tree, the proverbial tree, you might want to start shopping now because it's going to take some time to get it delivered," said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist with Moody's Analytics.
So, with goods not moving and ships sitting idle, it's creating a serious artery clog for imports and exports.
Industry experts point to another problem hurting the supply chain -- the containers. It is taking so long to unload the ships, analysts say, that some vessels are leaving without bringing the empty containers back to countries like China which leaves Asia without enough containers to pack up their products to send around the world.
It is a troubling cycle and the trickle effect will hit consumers.
Costco last week announced it will bring back consumer limits on toilet paper, paper towels and other items to prevent panic hoarding on already limited supplies.
With manufactured goods about to take a global hit, some could argue this might be a good year to travel the road less materialistic and just spend time with those you love and not worry about what's under the tree.
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