The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it — including the ability to simply buy certain products when you want them. Mass demand and production delays have turned some formerly standard items into a hot commodity.
Even now that the pandemic has been raging for months, there’s still no end in sight to shortages of some of the most impacted products. From soda to refrigerators, here are 13 everyday items that are being affected by the coronavirus, and tips to make what you do have stretch as long as possible.
Widespread homeschooling, combined with production delays, have made many models of laptops hard to come by. In fact, an Associated Press investigation found many schools are facing shortages and delays of up to several months for laptops and other online learning essentials.
Lenovo, HP and Dell have told school districts they have a shortage of nearly 5 million laptops, according to the AP. In some cases, this has been worsened by the Trump Administration’s sanctions on Chinese suppliers.
Several soda brands experienced temporary shortages early in the pandemic, but Dr Pepper is still struggling to quench the thirst of its loyal fans. On Aug. 10, the company tweeted an acknowledgment that it’s currently hard to find all flavors of Dr Pepper.
“Having trouble finding your favorite Dr Pepper product? We’re doing everything we can to get it back into your hands. That means working with our distribution partners to keep shelves stocked nationwide while ensuring the safety of our employees. We appreciate your patience, and encourage you to contact your local retailer directly for the most up-to-date availability of Dr Pepper products,” the company said in a Twitter statement.
Video Game Consoles
While you’re stuck at home you might want to get a new video game console — or at least some new video games for the one you have. If your console of choice is the Nintendo Switch, you may be out of luck.
Earlier in the year, production was temporarily halted by COVID-19 lockdowns in China, but those have since been resolved, according to Bloomberg. While Nintendo’s supply chain is now back to normal, the surge in popularity of the company’s Animal Crossing game has led to more shortages.
Nintendo raised production orders to 25 million units in early August, but even that wasn’t enough, according to Bloomberg. Operating factories are currently working at 120%, with hopes of producing up to 30 million units this fiscal year.
In June, Starbucks announced that it would be closing 400 stores over the next 18 months while it expanded its to-go offerings, including curbside pickup, drive-thru and mobile-only pickup locations, USA Today reported.
“As we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, we are accelerating our store transformation plans to address the realities of the current situation, while still providing a safe, familiar and convenient experience for our customers,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a news release.
Many drug ingredients are manufactured abroad, so closures of factories could lead to a lower supply of these drugs in America, NPR reported. One drug that’s already been affected is hydroxychloroquine, which is not manufactured in the U.S. India banned the export of the drug — though this ban has since been partially rolled back — so supplies were low as of mid-June, Supply Chain Brain reported. This has caused pharmacies to set prescription quantity limits, which could make it more difficult for autoimmune patients to fill their orders.
A federal study released in late June found that the U.S. is seeing shortages of more than 200 drugs and medical supplies due to international shutdowns early on in the pandemic and the supply chain disruptions they caused, and concluded that the U.S. is “likely” to see a shortage of generic pharmaceutical drugs, ABC News reported.
Luxury Fashion Items
Luxury brands like Burberry have taken a hit during the pandemic. In July, the company revealed plans to cut approximately 500 jobs globally, as it sees no quick recovery in site — especially from high-spending tourists, according to Reuters.
In September, the Ralph Lauren Corp. also announced plans to lay off around 15% of its workforce, due to coronavirus-related store closures earlier in the year and potential challenges in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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Now that Americans are home all the time, many people are looking to upgrade their home appliances or replace those that have broken. However, the high demand has caused major shortages that can make it impossible to find appliances like refrigerators and freezers.
In fact, experts have warned backlogs could be in place for some appliance brands and models through the end of this year, and possibly into 2020, NPR reported.
Sandy Tau, owner of AHC Appliances on Long Island told NPR, “I have never experienced a year where there were shortages like we’ve seen this year. We have freezers that are on back order since the end of March that have still not come in.”
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Technically speaking, there isn’t a beer shortage. However, a lack of aluminum cans could cause at least some beers to temporarily become scarce.
In September, the Brewer’s Association issued an aluminum can shortage advisory, noting that the demand for aluminum cans has outpaced the manufacturing industry’s production capacity. This was caused by several factors, including a shift to canned packaging for many drinks and the shift to off-premises sales caused by the pandemic.
“This shortage is a medium to long term issue that will not likely be resolved until the can manufacturing industry builds more capacity,” wrote the Brewer’s Association.
With many people staying at home and forgoing their usual commutes, tire sales have been on the decline. French tire manufacturer Michelin announced its half-year results on July 27, revealing a 24% decline in car tire sales and an 18% decline in truck tire sales. The company expects automotive and truck tire sales to decline 15%-20% in 2020, reported the S&P Global.
Under Armour, a leading sports apparel company, had already been experiencing sales decreases in North America before the coronavirus pandemic hit. In Sept. 2020, the company revealed plans to lay off 600 employees as part of a measure to cut costs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported the Baltimore Sun.
Business and bank closures due to COVID-19 have significantly interrupted the supply chain and standard circulation for U.S. coins, according to the Federal Reserve. This has caused a shortage of coins in some parts of the country, which the Fed says it’s actually working to resolve.
“As the economy recovers and businesses reopen, more coins will flow back into retail and banking channels and eventually into the Federal Reserve, which should allow for the rebuilding of coin inventories,” according to the Fed.
As people are looking for new ways to stay active outside of the gym, the demand for bicycles is booming. This has caused many reports of bicycle supply shortages, but Trek CFO Chad Brown told CNBC the company is still keeping up with demand.
“We’re still shipping out tens of thousands of bikes every week, so there are bikes out there,” Brown said on CNBC’s “The Exchange.” “I promise you, there are a lot more bikes on the way.”
Since the early days of the pandemic, Clorox wipes have been one of the most coveted items, thanks to their disinfecting powers. However, they’re a rare find these days. According to Benno Dorer, CEO of The Clorox Company, this won’t change until 2021.
“Disinfecting wipes, which are the hottest commodity in the business right now, will probably take longer because it’s a very complex supply chain to make them,” he told Reuters. “That entire supply chain is stressed. …We feel like it’s probably going to take until 2021 before we’re able to meet all the demand that we have.”
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