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Supply, labor shortages impacting local stores

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- Have you been to stores lately only to learn that the items you want aren't in stock?

The coronavirus pandemic and events leading up to it apprently are to blame for that.

For the past two years, buying staff at 3 Rivers Natural Grocery have been forced to find some alternate brands to help keep shelves as stocked as possible.

"There are products that are starting to become available, but then every time we go to order something perhaps from a company we order from maybe more infrequently than we do others, we realize that that company is just gone," Heather Grady said.

In the spring of 2020, the co-op experienced a 40% out-of-stock rate from its suppliers.

That now stands at about 25%.

"Now it's a combination of access to goods but also access to packaging. And then once those things are packaged, getting them to us," she said.

For the past two years, buying staff at 3 Rivers Natural Grocery have been forced to find some alternate brands to help keep shelves as stocked as possible.

Grady says a couple of the store's coolers also need to be replaced.

"There have been labor shortages in the places where they're manufactured them, and where we would have waited maybe a few weeks for a new cheese case, we're waiting for six-plus months," she said.

A PFW professor of economics says supply shortages actually began during the Trump administration when the US and China had a tariff war, prompting uncertainty in the global supply chain.

"When COVID hits, now all of a sudden you have a complete wiping away of the entire global economy. Everything shuts down," John Kessler said.
He says the labor shortage is because millions of people who were laid off and collected unemployment benefits may be waiting for the perfect job opportunity or to change careers.

He says millions of others are too afraid of the coronavirus to go back to work, or can't because they need to stay home with their children who may be sent home from school for COVID reasons.

As for supply shortages, he says if you see something on a shelf that you may not need right now but can afford and will use later, whether it be groceries or your children's gifts for the holidays, get it while you can.

"There's going to be an increase in demand for things come holiday season, and it's possible that we won't have enough stuff produced to meet all that demand. So if you see it now, I would grab it," Kessler said.

He says it could take two years to restart the entire global economy.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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