Calgary tire stores expect new inventory by January, but a lot of those tires have been spoken for by people on waiting lists. ((Lindsay Carroll/CBC))

Calgary drivers looking for winter tires might be spinning their wheels.

As the first major snowfall of the season hits the city, tire dealers say there is a shortage of winter tires, and many sizes are sold out.

Some tire retailers are even refusing to take on any new business until they clear the backlog of customers.

"We're trying to make do with everything we have left in all our stores, as well as warehousing, and we're having a tough time doing it," said Joe Camilleri, owner of Blaskin and Lane.

Tire dealers say the shortage is due in large part to a new law in Quebec, the first province to introduce a mandatory winter radial law, which is in effect from mid-December until March 15 for all vehicles registered in its jurisdiction.

At Calgary's Togo Tire Service, Lance Thomas-Larose said customers seem "desperate."

Sam Gowsell waited at Kal Tire in the North Hill Mall for more than five hours to get winter tires installed on his car. He said it was worth the wait because winter tires make a big difference on snowy streets.

Tire stores expect new inventory by January, but a lot of those tires are earmarked for people on the waiting list.

Reza Safai, an instructor at the Calgary Driving School, is reminding drivers to slow down, with or without winter tires.

"Two things they have to remember. Drive slower than the other days — very important — and keep distances a little bit more than other days."