By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4)– Supply chain problems that stymied retailers and clogged U.S. ports this year are expected to continue into 2022 as the COVID-19 delta variant’s effects linger. That means shoppers face potential delays in retailers replenishing everything from video games to clothing — especially during the coming holiday season.

(credit: CBS)

“I half-jokingly tell people ‘Order your Christmas presents now because otherwise on Christmas day, there may just be a picture of something that’s not coming until February or March,'” Scott Price, the international president for shipping giant UPS, told the AFP wire service.

It’s not a joke to Kelcy Kershner of Cherry Creek Shade & Drapery. Two weeks ago, she updated the sign on her family’s business that reads: “Want it for the holidays? I would order now, really.”

“Even still, you’ll be lucky to get it by Christmas,” she told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “We can’t get materials. Everyone’s just so backlogged.”

The busiest time of the year for Kershner is right around the corner as families prepare their homes for the holidays. Yet getting supplies for her custom shades and drapery business is next to impossible.

“A lot of the steel we’re getting is coming out of China,” she explained. “A lot of them go by freight, on a boat, but we can’t get them unloaded.”

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Between global supply chain issues and labor shortages, costs are going up and deliveries are slowing down. Customers are quite literally paying the price.

“It’s doubling the cost of everything,” Kershner said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people get very frustrated, rightfully so but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Supply problems and slow shipments are expected to continue into 2022. All the more reason why Kershner, other businesses and delivery companies like UPS say to order holiday presents now.

“We’ve been preparing since the first of the year for this coming holiday season,” James Boxrud, communications specialist for the United States Postal Service, said. “There’s a lot of mail that moves through here every day.”

Some consumers are already buying gifts, especially online. That keeps mail sorting facilities like the large location in Denver extra busy. To help keep up, Boxrud explained Colorado now has two new package sorting machines – one in Colorado Springs, another in Denver – that sorts packages 12 times faster than manual sorting.

“Between the two machines, they’ll be able to handle 150,000 packages an evening,” he said.

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Boxrud said USPS is not seeing the shipping delays like some other companies are experiencing. However, he said now is the time to prepare for the seasonal rush.

“We all know with the holiday season coming up there’s going to be a lot more mail in the system,” he said. “We recommend for everybody to mail early.”

And make those orders now so your holiday hopes don’t include shipping stress.

“It’ll probably get worse,” Kershner said. “Now’s the time to do it.”

To help keep up with the holiday demand, and continued labor shortages, USPS is hosting two hiring fairs in Denver and Littleton this Friday and Saturday, respectively. Those interested can learn more and apply by visiting: USPS.com/careers.

(credit: USPS)

Kelly Werthmann