Rail cars and wish lists: Supply chain issues starting to appear in Halifax

If you've been noticing many rail cars and shipping containers sitting idle in Halifax lately, you're not alone.

Experts say it's a direct result of the worldwide supply chain issues and a stark reminder to start your Christmas shopping early this year.

"If you shop early, if the product you want isn't there, you may have time for them to be able to get that product in before Christmas," said Jim Cormier, Retail Council of Canada Atlantic director.

Even during a week of stormy weather, there was no shortage of customers at Mic Mac Mall - one of the biggest shopping centres in Atlantic Canada.

With Christmas just over one month away, some shoppers, like Carleigh Milligan, say there is an added urgency this year.

"I've been hearing lots of things about shortages, since the supply chain issues because of COVID," she said.

Previously reserved for economists and academics, many have become familiar with the phrase "supply chain" in recent months.

Worries about produce are among the latest concerns but many other products are also being affected.

Experts say that early COVID-19 shutdowns led to shortages, and pent-up demand.

Now, labour shortages around the world, and even the severe storm that hit British Columbia, are making the problem worse.

It's also one of the reasons there are so many trains and shipping containers barely moving around Halifax right now, with vessels piling up in other ports.

"We're not seeing the vessels we would normally see because they're stuck in other ports right now," Lane Farguson, Port of Halifax media relations manager, told CTV News.

"And of course, that means that those goods that are on the vessels aren't getting to Halifax because they're stuck on the ships that are stuck in other ports."

Retail experts say we're heading into another unprecedented holiday shopping season, where patience and flexibility will have to be top everyone's list.

Some wish list items may be delayed - or simply not available.