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ELIZABETH, New Jersey (WABC) — From groceries to toys, the ongoing supply chain slowdown has made many items harder to find.

Part of the problem is the backlog of container ships at the port of New York and New Jersey.

The delays are hurting local businesses and could cost us this holiday season.

At a news conference in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Tuesday, local leaders pointed to possible price gouging from foreign shipping companies. They also underscored the serious break down in the supply chain, which is expected to make finding that perfect holiday gift a very real struggle.

In a nutshell, there are five major shipping companies – and all of them are foreign. They have jacked up the price of getting supplies from some overseas ports, mainly China, to ours.

For instance, shipping a certain container pre-COVID may have been $2,500. Those companies are now charging $20,000 or more – because they can.

The five companies rule the shipping market, which in turn is driving up the cost of imported goods.

Demand for goods here in the United States is high. And overseas companies that make items like shoes, toys, or building supplies have over-produced just in case another shutdown is called.

It has shifted how the entire supply chain industry works, clogging mostly ports out West.
The East Coast ports are operating fairly smoothly, according to port officials. But they say goods are getting to warehouses, but there are not enough workers along the supply chain to get the merchandise from the warehouses to stores.

“We’re hearing from a lot of businesses in our districts that are saying we’re concerned that we’re not going to be able to get things on the shelf for kids at Christmas, I mean that’s the bottom line here which is why this ocean-freight carrier crisis is a real one,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer, NJ-District 5.

“My daughter wants a particular American Girl doll — she’s 7 years old — my advice is get that particular soon, have your children write to Santa Claus early this year because yes there will be goods, there will be stuff, but it may not be the present that you actually want, it may not be available on time,” said Dan Maffei, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission.

Walmart, UPS and Home Depot are just some of the key players getting a seat at the table Wednesday morning. They were invited to the White House to discuss how to get goods to consumers and how to keep price tags stable.

The goal, to support consumers and to prevent the economy from limping into the New Year.

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