FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — This Christmas, finding that perfect gift could be a challenge. Retailers across the country urging folks to shop early and shop now.

“We’re not going to take a chance we want our customers to have exactly what they want,” says the owner of Fantasy Island Toys, Ginger Milligan. She began ordering Christmas toys in January. “In August, September, October we took huge shipments. So, that’s where all the overflow is right now.”

The rest of it may still be on a ship somewhere. The pandemic is being blamed for most of those delays. “Last year, it was all about pivot — pivot this, pivot that — and this year it’s all about logistics,” Milligan said. “If you didn’t know about logistics — container ships, the time it takes for a boat leaving China to get to the ports in California — you do now. Every retailer knows all about it.”

These days the running joke is, they know a ship has been unloaded when they get a delivery, but the backlog is no joke to shoppers like Michelle Butler. “Trying to get out and shop local but also try to think ahead because shipping you just don’t know what kind of delays places are going to have.”

Those delays are also expected to send more people to the stores instead of ordering online.

“This is a lot more fun than punching a button on my computer,” says Libby Davis, who has now finished shopping for all the grandchildren.

Milligan says the shipping delays will eventually work themselves out but until then, “This is stuff we know we will need all the way through Christmas Eve.”