Pandemic shortages return: Costco limiting purchases

Business

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Remember the bad old days of 2020, when toilet paper was selling for $5 a roll on eBay and grocery store shelves seemed permanently bare of essentials… and baking flour?

Scarcity days are here again, but this time the cause isn’t millions of people suddenly having to flush, eat, cook and amuse themselves at home while on lockdown. The problem is a serious lack of everything from cargo ships to tractor-trailers in the supply chain that brings everything to local stores.

The labor shortage caused by the pandemic hit everywhere, and that includes truckers, ship crews, dock workers and freight handlers.

Retail giant Costco is limiting customer purchases of toilet paper, bottled water and cleaning supplies to try to forestall the kind of bare shelves it and just about every other major retailer saw during the initial phase of the pandemic.

Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti didn’t give specifics during an earnings call Thursday but made clear that limits would be placed.

Prices for overseas shipping containers have skyrocketed, and even things like Christmas decor are running in short supply. Toy industry experts are advising that you get the kids’ holiday gifts now, because what you see in stores today might be all there will be between now and December.

As with every industry, the shipping industry is hiring as fast as it can. However, it takes a good deal longer to train a tractor-trailer driver than a pizza cook, and crane operators on cargo ships need much more practice than servers at your local Irish bar. Wage offerings are up, and hiring bonuses are swelling the ranks of applicants, but it will take time to get relief to U.S. store shelves.

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