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More Than Just Toilet Paper: The Goods Going Out of Stock Due to COVID

It seems the outbreak of coronavirus has caused the entire world to pause dead in its tracks.

Yet, we go on living. There’s no surprise that this traumatic outbreak has been a major cause of a shortage of goods throughout the world. To learn more about the scarcity that has unfortunately plagued the Earth, continue reading.

Toilet Paper

Toilet paper was one of the first things to go. Like a scene from a doomsday film, the shelves of grocery stores across the nation were empty for weeks. But there’s a reason why it was flying off the shelves of every grocery leading up to the big lockdown of 2020. March was the month that the state of the U.S. went haywire. A total shut down and stay-home order was issued, causing many people to stock up on various household goods such as canned goods, cleaning supplies, and yes — toilet paper. It’s been months since that order was issued, and you may still find it missing from the shelves.

The shortage can be attributed to this next factor. Most major retailers and grocery stores only keep a few weeks worth of this good in stock. When these buyers went into panic mode, they were able to buy up the stock in record time. Since many individuals were buying in bulk, this left many others on the sidelines, as they didn’t have the resources to buy various packages in one shopping session.

How the coronavirus created a toilet paper shortage in the U.S

However, this raises another question — what other goods across the globe have dwindled? Don’t be quick to brush off a lumber shortage. It affects you more than you think.

Experts believe that this major shortage, like the lumber shortage, is due to the disruption in the supply chain.

Another reason that there was a dramatic shortage was due to the fact that people were actually using more paper in their homes. Lockdown grouped families together who would normally spend their days out with friends, at work, or at school. For example, college kids drove home from campus, thinking they’d only be home for a couple of weeks. Eventually, the reality set in. Being stuck in the home, paired with the fear of not knowing when it would all be over, caused millions to panic.

Food

Cold cuts have also been flying off the shelves. Additionally, it’s expected to last throughout the entirety of the pandemic and can be attributed to the dramatic impact of the disrupted supply chain.

You may have heard about the meat shortage, but the reality is that there’s a shortage of more than just animal-based proteins. There has also been a shortage of food in general. However, it seems that meat has been hit the hardest. Employees working at various plants in different states have had to stop working, as they’ve been getting sick due to the virus. Not to mention, many of these facilities began to shut down completely in April. Tyson, one of the nation’s largest vendors of animal-based products, began to implement safer and more sanitary precautions. For instance, they began checking employee temperatures before they reported back to work. The company also encouraged practices such as social distancing among workers and routine cleaning.

Eventually, after feeling like they were drowning, the meat processing companies called upon the help of the federal government. However, critics of this decision were quick to point out that these plants were acting as ‘if the sky was falling, even though it really wasn’t.’

In April, an executive order was signed to keep these plants open. They were declared an essential business through this order. Many other food processing plants and restaurants were given the same treatment. For a while, it felt as if things were returning to normal. Big industries and neighborhood small businesses began to open their doors again.

Throughout all this, the fruit and vegetable industry came out relatively unscathed. One theory states that farmers in this sector had already gotten sick and just ‘powered through it’ without even seeking treatment.

Perhaps one of the most disheartening things about the shortage in grocery stores is that their sales do not necessarily correlate with how well the crops are doing. In this instance of the pandemic, it might have seemed like there wasn’t enough food to go around, meanwhile farmers had no choice but to dump the excess on their end.

The Problem With a Shortage of Lumber

Thinking about starting a home improvement project during the pandemic? This may be impossible, considering the lumber shortage has affected homeowners and entrepreneurs of small businesses throughout the country.

The lumber shortage can be attributed to the fact that many lumber mills had to shut down in regulation with the CDC’s guidelines. Some mills were unable to enforce social distancing procedures, warranting a complete closure. This shut down began with treated wood and worked its way down to plywood and regular building wood.

Many hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes are experiencing the effects of the lumber shortage as they can’t keep certain products in stock for their customers — products like heat treated pallets. Construction projects — like commercial roofing projects — have also come to a screeching halt. Treating wood typically takes place in the spring. Items like cabinets, furniture, and doors have also been in high demand, yet low in stock.

Therefore, you might have to wait a few additional months before starting any home improvement projects back up again. You might even have to wait until the end of 2020. In the meantime, ensure you’re staying home, washing your hands frequently, and upkeep social distance protocols when running errands. Those home improvement projects can wait until further notice!

Gardening Products

Some Americans have even turned to gardening in their spare time. The tools have seemed to have been swiped from the shelves of most home improvement stores in an effort to stave off the boredom while at home.

Cash

Moving on from the lumber shortage and gardening products, it’s safe to say that the pandemic isn’t simply causing people to grab all of the toilet paper of the shelves. People are hoarding another type of paper too. Not necessarily ATM paper, but cold hard cash. There simply isn’t enough of it.

The country has been experiencing a coin shortage. Banks across the country are not able to keep up with demand. Some stores are switching to a card payment option only to ensure they keep their cash in the registers. Around 600 stores have reached the point where they cannot make the proper change for their shoppers.

They have turned to ask customers for coin donations to pick up the slack.

Paying through cellphone apps, such as Apple and Samsung Pay, will also prove to be quite useful throughout these unprecedented times.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Products

Cleaning and sanitizing products have been in high demand, but a low shortage. Hand sanitizer, like toilet paper, was completely out of stock as well up until a few months ago. When the pandemic first hit, there were even articles online that were teaching people how to make their own hand sanitizer solution at home.

However, other household items like bleach have also been hard to find in stores. Like toilet paper, these were items that many individuals felt the need to hoard when word spread about the severity of the virus.

Drinks

Even aluminum has reached its breaking point. With so many families at home, drinking their favorite flavor of pop while locked indoors, soda companies are struggling to meet the demand for more soft drinks in the average household.

Masks

The mask shortage, like the lumber shortage, has made it increasingly difficult to go about one’s day to day life, especially now that they are mandatory.

When the virus hit, it was nearly impossible to find one and people had to resort to nearly comical measures by using household items to cover their noses and mouths.

Medical Supplies

Lastly, medical professionals have been struggling to keep afloat. There has been a shortage of everything concerning staff, hospital beds, and equipment. There’s more than just the lumber shortage to be concerned about.

How Staff is Handling the Flow

It’s said to be a complex yet solvable issue. Scarcity in hospitals has never been more evident. It all boils down to the ‘flow.’ With an optimal version of this plan, the doctors can focus their energy on the patient and not waste their time on inefficient communication — which can be fatal during these times.

Drug Shortages Due to COVID

Getting family medical care right now may seem next to impossible with the strict COVID regulations put into place in hospitals and clinics across the nation. There has even been an incline in the number of drug shortages in hospitals, which adds to the strain.

Certain drugs like heart medications, in particular, have been in even higher demand. A survey issued that demand for amiodarone, a drug used to lower the risk of late-onset cardiac arrest and manage arrhythmia, increased 66% nationally when the pandemic first hit.

Additionally, two other vital drugs used to manage septic shock in patients, norepinephrine, and vasopressin were also in higher demand since this first quarter of the year.

The good news is that most of these drug orders have been fulfilled, bettering patients suffering from the symptoms of coronavirus. Unfortunately, researchers have found the future to be quite bleak,

Appliances

This shortage may surprise you. However, with more people stuck at home, there are more people cooking for their families. This has caused the need for appliances to rise, but their availability to plummet. This includes appliances like microwaves, stand alone freezers, and fridges. With so much demand, manufacturers across the globe are struggling to keep up. After all, most appliances are created with parts that are sourced from all different areas of the world. Since this pandemic is affecting every continent, it’s making the demand too difficult to keep up with. The average person could wait up to 12 weeks on backorder before getting a new fridge. Without cargo shipping, it would be nearly impossible.

New Vehicle Sales are at an All-Time Low

You can still take out a loan and put it towards a car if you need one, but the auto dealerships are currently experiencing a record low. While summer is usually the time many people trade their cars in for a newer model, May has been stated to be a critically low month despite dealers promising deals, specials, and 0% financing.

However, not as many people are on the roads. With nowhere to go, new car sales have taken a hit — similarly to the lumber shortage. Production plants were momentarily shut down but have opened back up. The auto industry’s saving grace is that they are still selling more cars than they’re producing.

Final Words on the Coronavirus Shortages

The coronavirus has affected everyone, whether you’re a supplier of premium fencing or an educator. It has also caused grave scarcity in various fields. The lumber shortage has especially taken its toll on homeowners and business owners everywhere. Unable to complete time-sensitive projects, they are just one small group of people who have had their world turned upside down since the virus spread across the globe. However, it’s important to keep your spirits up high and hope for a better future, eventually.

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Eric Brophy

I’m Eric Brophy, a carpenter and homebuilder with 16 years experience doing the job right, the old-fashioned way. What they used to say is true — measure twice, cut once. If you plan out a project from the start, with blueprints, a bill of materials, the whole nine yards, you may seem to be wasting time at the start, but it’s time saved on having to do the job again when it just doesn’t fit. Whether you’re building in the city or off the grid, ground-up or touch-up, I can guarantee you’ll find home improvement tips for your next DIY project at home.

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