Grocery Store Shortages Comparable to 2020 — Are You Prepared for Lack of Supply During the Holidays?

Woman with protection face mask and gloves shopping at supermarket. stock photo
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While it’s still unclear whether the Delta variant will put a damper on holiday celebrations, according to the Wall Street Journal, some executives are preparing for U.S. consumers to have larger gatherings than they did late last year.

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While Thanksgiving is still over two months away, some retailers started shopping for turkeys much earlier this year. In fact, U.S. supermarket chains began buying up turkeys, spices, stuffing and cranberry sauce last winter to avoid the possibility of empty shelves during their busiest time of the year, WSJ reported.

From increased disruptions in global supply chains, labor shortages, as well as higher costs for shipping containers and fuel, supply chain issues have been a persistent issue since the onset of the pandemic.

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Demand has also been higher than expected for many retailers, with monthly sales up 14% from two years ago and 3% from last year, according to data from research firm IRI. Supermarkets are also receiving as little as 40% of what they order compared with 90% pre-pandemic, executives have said.

Because of this, WSJ also noted that retailers are rethinking their strategy. Some are carrying fewer flavors or sizes, selling different brands and gathering inventory when possible.

“We locked down turkeys in the second, third week of February,” Jeff Culhane, senior vice president of merchandising for Tops, told WSJ.

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Grocery industry officials warn that shoppers may not find everything they need when it comes to brand, flavor or size for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Shoppers should also expect a higher total when they get to the register as retailers pass down cost increases in transportation, labor and commodities.

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Last updated: September 18, 2021

About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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