General update on the state of things

What I’m seeing here in Upstate NY.

Meat prices leveled off, and now appear to have dropped back down to something close to where they were before the shutdown.  However there are still supply shortages.  I can get eye of round via my wholesaler again, and the price is back down to normal, BUT, they’re only able to get about half of what they normally get for stock of it, and they’ve had to cut their overall available products list by more than half.  Products just aren’t available.   ON the other hand the sales person I talked to says they’re still running flat out selling what they can get.  People are still stocking up.

Paper goods, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, and the like, are still not back to normal.  They’re doing way better, but they’re not where they were before the shut down.  People are still panic buying, if not quite at the same level.

Cleaning supplies are still fucked.  If the shelves appear to be full its because the store has “spread to fill” what they have for product.  Home Depot actually issued “spread to fill” orders, take what you have, whatever the product IS, and make the shelves look full, because we don’t know when we’re going to be able to get the normal products, and maybe if we make the shelves look full people will stop panic buying.  Its kinda helping, but the people who’re looking for specific cleaners are still walking away frustrated.  In addition HD has brought in all sorts of cleaners that they don’t normally carry in an attempt to provide SOMETHING to the customers who’re looking for products.  Not just disinfectants, but whatever they can get.

Garden hoses and sprinklers are still in short supply, though that aisle looks better than it did.

Pressure treated lumber might have managed to recover, mostly anyway, but whats in the stores is still wet and green tinted as hell, its that fresh from the factory.

Appliances are still fucked, and they’ve no clue when they’ll be able to get caught back up.  If you’re in a position where you NEED an appliance, be aware that its most likely going to take months to get the models you want.

Cabinets are just as behind as appliances.  Hope you weren’t planning on redoing your kitchen any time soon.

Power tools are running short, shelving is running short, doors and windows are running short (though only in some lines).  Paint is behind or ahead depending on what exactly you’re looking for.  Pesticides are short, weed killers are short.  Generators are short.  We’re already sold out of a fair bit of the Halloween stuff and it was only put on the floor less than 2 weeks ago.

I’d previously thought that the slowdown in buying was because people were running out of money and going back to work as things opened up.  And certainly some of it was from that.  And some of it was because other stores were opening up and people had other places to spend their money.  But a large portion of it was because we started to run out of things to sell.

I’ve had a chance to talk to several vendor reps at work, as well as a variety of truck delivery drivers.  Everyone says the same thing.  The warehouses are empty, they echo, and there’s NO backstock to be had.  Home Depot, Lowes, and all the other stores that stayed open through the shutdown, sold through a year or more’s worth of backstock of just about everything in the space of 4 months.  Add in the manufacturing, and transportation, shutdowns and slow downs, add in the issues getting ANY supplies from overseas, add in that people bought out products that they’d never have even CONSIDERED buying a year ago, add in that people haven’t stopped buying those things since the shutdown hit.  The manufacturers are running flat out trying to catch back up.  If they have the people, and the supplies, their line is running 24/7, and every single item that comes off the line is going right onto a truck and sent directly to a store.  Where its promptly bought by someone and the process is repeated.  All the vendor reps I’ve talked to stated that their company has reduced their product lines to the minimum base products and converted the other manufacturing lines over to those base products, and they still can’t get caught up on those items.  The vendors who are exclusively outdoor products, hardscapes and gardening supplies and the like, have hope that once snow starts flying they’ll be able to catch up because people will PROBABLY stop buying their products.  The rest of them are just hoping that people will run out of money before the guys running the manufacturing lines drop dead from exhaustion (ok, no one’s specifically said that, and yes, they’re all delighted at the money thats coming in, but good lord people, can you please stop buying long enough for everyone to catch up??!!).

While it’s certainly possible that some manufacturer somewhere has decided to slow things down deliberately to make things look even shorter than they are, I really don’t think its the problem.  Honestly, based on what I’m seeing, most of these products, they could double the retail price of the items, and people would still snatch them off the shelves as fast as possible.   None of them WANTS their normal customers to stop buying the original choice items because they got used to something different.  The supply chain is just that fucked.  And its going to be months before things settle down.  Possibly quite a few months, as in, next year, if people continue to buy at the same rate.  Even longer if the .GOV tries to force another shutdown.  Longer again if any of the international suppliers of parts or chemicals has to shut down again.


6 thoughts on “General update on the state of things”

  1. This is darned scary stuff. It was too easy to break our supply chain and too hard to get it back up and running. I shop for my parents, who are quite elderly, to keep them out of the stores. They do not understand that I am not being a meanie when I can’t get the exact brand of cleaner that my dad absolutely must have. Not liking what we are seeing. Thanks for the info. Also delighted Liz got to meet you. I have been not doing all that great and just wasn’t up for the trip that day. Sorry about that.

    • Its ok, I was hoping you’d be able to make the trip too, but trust me, I understand! I drive by you guys at least once a year when I have to make a trip into Albany, we’ll have to figure something out one of these times.

      And yah. I’m having this conversation daily with customers. “I don’t understand, its been MONTHS, why aren’t things back to normal!?” Cause the supply chain got fucked from top to bottom. To which people tell me that I have a horrid attitude.

      Its already started for winter stuff too. Its going to be a long year…..

  2. I was at an HD on Friday and saw two aisles of the garden section FILLED with Christmas goods. So filled that if I had wanted anything down those aisles, I could not have physical gotten anything (not gotten the cart down the aisle, could not have gotten them out of their bays).

    And, I can’t get 1 section of fencing that a bear took down – and the stores (not HD – who doesn’t carry what I need) can’t get them from the suppliers. Yeah, I’ll bitch about it to myself, but not take it out on the retailers – I’ll just make do.

    I am pretty sure we are still in better shape than the shortages that resulted during WWi and WWII, so people need to just chill!

    • Yup, Christmas is going out, ours will be set last week of Sept it looks like. But I can tell you that we haven’t received nearly as much christmas stock as we normally have by this time. I can’t tell, yet, how much of it is a shipping problem and how much of it is a don’t have it problem.

      It could be EVER so much worse, but people just don’t seem to get it.

    • could be. But I’m going to bet that they don’t have normal stocking levels either. HD has an internal “social media” for its employees, and I know that fellow HD employees from around the country are still reporting shortages, or outages, of alot of products. Its not always the same products, there are definitely regional differences, but everyone’s still seeing it.

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