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Holiday shoppers urged to start early with ongoing shortages

The South Carolina Trucking Association says to start holiday shopping early, with a truck driver shortage still impacting the nation.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Trucking Association (SCTA) is warning holiday shoppers to start shopping early. The agency said the ongoing truck driver shortage could cause shipping delays, like in 2020. 

"I’m going to go to the malls this year because last year sucked," said Stefanie Ross, Shopper. "Cause of the truck shortage, the truckers and there’s just a lot of hold on stuff. Amazon isn’t pushing out like they used to. You pay for amazon prime and you’re not getting your stuff like you’re supposed to anymore."

For Columbia resident Bret Mealing, Christmas shopping began in August. 

"It's all done," Mealing said. "We heard of many problems of people getting product, and having so much problems this year, we wanted to be way ahead and have everything ready to go."

He told News19 that, with a truck driver shortage and other shipping delays, plan ahead and don't wait. 

"You don’t know what's out there or if it’s going to come in so you better get on top of it," Mealing said. 

The president and CEO of SCTA, Rick Todd, said that with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday happening this weekend, people need to take advantage of the opportunity to get their gifts in time. 

"Store shelves, probably in most instances, are going to be leaner, options fewer, and they won’t be able to replenish that stock as quickly as they usually could," Todd said. 

He said truck drivers still need to transport goods from ports and warehouses to the business.

"It’s nowhere near where it needs to be," Todd said. "We still have a significant shortage of drivers."

He explained that not many people want to be a CDL driver, and, for those who do, they don't have enough experience to get hired.

"Demand is such, everybody’s scrambling right now," Todd said. "The insurance companies really don't want to cover entry-level drivers. They really require drivers to be at least 23-years-old or have at least 2 years of experience. So how do you get experience if you can't get a job? How do you get a job if you don't have experience? So it's like a chicken and an egg, and a catch 22 situation."

To help address the truck driver and supply chain shortage, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order that suspends or relaxes rules and regulations related to commercial vehicles.

It also allows the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety to wave applications and enforcement of some federal and state rules on registration on hours of service for those vehicles.  

With the demand for deals and drivers, one shopper reminds everyone to be patient this holiday season. 

"With the delays, I'm being patient," said Ken Amos. "The gifts are a gift and people still appreciate it. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. Just be patient, they'll come."