Pandemic-related supply chain issues continue to rattle businesses nationwide, leaving basic essentials such as food in short supply and making toys and other merchandise scarce as retailers brace for the usually busy holiday season.
Barren shelves at grocery stores and inconsistent inventory at retailers are routine concerns, and store owners don’t expect the issues to dissipate before the holiday rush.
The supply chain problems aren’t new, although more people are noticing them now as consumer confidence rebounds after the pandemic.
“Once it runs out, I’m not confident I’m going to be able to restock it,” said Matt Santarpio, who owns Walnut Food Market in Newton.
Santarpio, who said he first noticed supply chain issues at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, pointed out that the problem has worsened in recent weeks.
“It’s been, if something goes out of stock, it might be two or three months before we see more of it,” he said.
But the issues aren’t just impacting the food supply. Even toy stores are having a difficult time keeping popular items in stock, as their vendors cut off orders.
“It’s just been very, very unpredictable,” said Kim Mitchell, who owns Boing! Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain. “I was getting notices that they weren’t accepting any new orders because they’d already sold out for the year.”
More Supply Chain Stories
Experts anticipate that the issues will last through the holidays and even beyond.
“You’re looking at great delays. Real questions of whether you’re going to be filling your shelves,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “Inflation is going to have an impact, a ripple effect, upon the consumer this year, and we can only hope that this is a short term phenomenon.”