Matt Bush, FISM News
Supply chain issues have become a way of life since the beginning of the global pandemic. With the surge of omicron and winter storms particularly affecting the Northeast, supply chain issues have become exacerbated even more and empty grocery store shelves have once again become a common sight for consumers.
According to the AP, typically between 5% and 10% of grocery store products are out of stock at any given time. Right now, the unavailability rate is more like 15% or about double what consumers should expect. USA Today cited a recent study by KPMG that states, “71% of grocery consumers said they were somewhat or very concerned about shortages or stockouts with 35% switching brands when their favorite items are out of stock.”
At the same time that groceries are becoming less accessible, and consumers are having to switch from their normal brands, the consumer price index for “food at home” reached a four decade high of 6.5% in December. A historic increase in prices coupled with a historic decrease in availability could have major consequences for the grocery industry in the near future unless something changes.
Because of what people are experiencing at their local grocers, #BareShelvesBiden has begun to trend on Twitter. Consumers nationwide are taking pictures of empty shelves and posting those pictures with the hashtag to show their displeasure with how the administration is handling the supply chain issues.
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 10, 2022
Even CNBC senior White House correspondent Kayla Tausche and Atlanta democratic mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined in, minus the hashtag of course:
Apocalypse now pic.twitter.com/j48ALuYtoQ
— Kayla Tausche (@kaylatausche) January 9, 2022
I’ve received 8 messages & counting from my very polite @Instacart shopper over the last 10 minutes about missing items in the Cascade Rd @Publix. I shopped in Buckhead & Vinings last week and no one else seems to have the supply chain issues we’re experiencing in SW Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/aDsTgwvljD
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) January 5, 2022
The hashtags and pictures bring some levity to the situation, but the truth is that supply chain issues like the ones plaguing America in general, and grocery stores specifically, can lead to growing unrest and distrust from the American consumer.
According to an article in Fortune, 55% of Americans blame the federal government for the shortages, only blaming shipping companies more for the lack of goods.
Supply shortages has also caused some people to “panic buy,” thinking that the items they “need” may not be available long term. This is something that was highlighted at the beginning of the pandemic with items such as toilet paper and cleaning goods. Panic buying, however, does little more than make the supply chain issues worse.
Many economists believe that many of these issues will clear up in the beginning of 2022, but there is always a caveat…What about the next variant?
With elections coming up, many Americans look to use their power at the polls to elect politicians who can better handle the complicated economic issues arising from supply chain issues and the pandemic. A large contingency has voiced their displeasure with quarantines, uncertainty, and government handouts, which all exacerbate issues on every level of the supply chain.