West Coast port slowdown continues to impact retailers

OAKLAND (KTVU) - Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez continued his meetings Wednesday with the Longshoremen and their employers, the Pacific Maritime Association, in the port slowdown that's costing billions of dollars in losses month after month.

Three weeks ago KTVU reported on two Union City companies struggling to get containers full of toddler clothes and toys. The goods were already weeks late back then, and things have not improved.

The store, Angel Dear, is waiting on four containers with $2 million worth of early spring toddler clothes. "Usually this would hit the stores around January 15th and now we're looking at the end of February into March before the retailers can take it," says Kimberley Perrin, Angel Dear's Sales & Marketing Director.

That is if the containers ever arrive - since they're still on a ship circling around coastal waters off the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Many retailers that we've spoken to have said they might cancel their order." says Perrin.

Though you'll find Angel Dear in some high end big box retailers, most of it goes to small, independent mom and pop kid's clothing boutiques.

"We have about 3,000 of these independent stores all across the United States," Perrin adds. Having essentially missed the spring season, Angel Dear will have to settle for getting what it can for them. "Flash sales, closeouts, but you never make your money back. That's all a loss in the end." she laments.

Just across the way, PlanToys, a maker of green, educational, wooden toys, is in the same situation. "We're still waiting for containers. We're waiting for one that's been there for over two months now and every day we've called, they tell us that we're going to be getting that container." says Dave McCarthy, PlanToy's Warehouse Manager.

McCarthy says PlanToys will take a loss so it doesn't disappoint its customers for Easter and Earth Day who've ordered special wooden egg baskets and bird house kits.

"We had to ship in, air freight, two pallets getting ready for Easter and some other sales opportunities which is very costly but we cannot pass those costs on to our customers at all," says Mr. McCarthy.

Much of California's export produce business has been lost in the last few months.

Meanwhile, clothing manufacturers and retailers are getting hit financially as the spring apparel season slips away. Just like a lot of Valentine's merchandise, a lot of Easter stuff may not make it to the shelves.