Winter tires are stacked high in warehouses now, but are not expected to last. ((Lindsay Carroll/CBC))

New legislation making winter tires mandatory in Quebec is expected to lead to a shortage in the Maritimes.

Many Maritime retailers get their tires from Quebec, and the new law there is already having an effect east of that province.

"It could potentially be very difficult to get certain tire sizes," Allan Harris, manager of Charlottetown's Miller Tires told CBC News Friday.

"People should get their tires early and not leave them until the last minute, because if they do they could be left out in the cold."

Harris ordered 2,000 tires for this season, but half of those are already sold. In addition to the new rules in Quebec, he said an increased awareness of the benefits of winter tires is adding to demand.

A law passed last year in Quebec requires that all cars in the province be equipped with winter tires by Nov. 15, and they have to stay on the vehicles until April 15.

At the time, the Quebec government estimated that 90 per cent of vehicles already used snow tires, though an estimated 500,000 people were relying on all-season tires.

Quebec is the first province to require winter tires.

Cecil Frizzell, manager of Cornwall Auto and Tires just west of Charlottetown, said he has been talking to his tire suppliers about the situation.

"They said if people don't have them ordered now, meaning [retailers], they're not going to be able to get them," said Frizzell.

Frizzell ordered extra tires this year, but is still not sure he will have enough.

Canadian Tire stores believe they won't be hit as hard by the shortage because it carries some brands made only for the company. A spokesperson said stores were told months ago to order extra stock, knowing the decision in Quebec would create shortages.