Supply chain chaos may cause toy shortage this holiday season

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 11:21 AM EDT
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(CNN) - It may take Santa a little more than nine reindeer and a sleigh to deliver gifts from the North Pole this year.

Toys already made are caught in a global supply chain gridlock that could keep them off shelves until next year.

In a small New Jersey office, a herculean attempt is underway as the unofficial logistics center for Carrera Revell works desperately to get their toys into the U.S. in time for this holiday season.

Frank Tiessen, the president of the company, is manning the operation. Although he’s never worked directly in logistics, he feels the need to get directly involved because of the global supply chain challenges his company and many others are facing.

Cargo vessels, order numbers and arrival dates are all tracked with precision.

“Pretty much the first thing in the morning is really checking the backlog in the warehouse,” Tiessen said.

Boxes of the well-known slot car maker’s toys are stuck in their warehouses in China, waiting for a ride.

“We still have about 25-30 containers, which are just missing, which will not be here,” Tiessen said.

That’s 30% of their holiday product.

Carrera Revell is just one of many companies dealing with a supply chain nightmare.

With port congestion, containers shipped in May are just arriving to Carrera Revell’s U.S. warehouse in Atlanta, five months behind schedule.

“We have seen such a surge in the last 90 days,” Angela Higgs said.

Higgs runs the freight-forwarding company for Carrera Revell, tasked with receiving the toys and getting them out to retailers as quickly as possible.

“It’s been one delay after another,” Higgs said. “And we’ve of course been pushing and pushing and pushing, but these delays are inevitable right now.”

With nearly every U.S. port facing a backlog, the warehouse is using all of them, piecing together a working supply chain.

“We’re just going everywhere we can. Otherwise, these goods are not going to get to the stores. And I’m not going to have anyone missing out on their toys this season,” Higgs said.

To try to help with that, President Joe Biden announced two major ports in California will move to operate 24/7.

However, Tiessen said this moves the problem from the sea to the land.

“It just doesn’t alleviate the problem, which we then have once the containers are off the boat,” he said. “There are not enough trucks. There are no enough freight trains to move the containers in land.”

There are currently about 200,000 containers still sitting on ships with nowhere to offload.

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