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A combination of pandemic-related problems are creating empty shelves at grocery stores

EL PASO, Texas — Grocery stores are having a difficult time keeping their shelves fully stocked for customers, but it is not because of panic buying. 

Gary Huddleston, a grocery industry consultant from the Texas Retailers Association, said the empty shelves could be attributed to three problems. 

During the pandemic, companies have had a difficult time staffing their factories and stores. Huddleston said the Covid-19 Omicron variant has made things worse. The recent surge in Covid cases around the country has depleted an already low supply chain workforce. Huddleston said this is creating an even more significant decrease in product. 

Second, the price of diesel fuel is high. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, diesel fuel has gone up almost a whole dollar per gallon since January 2021. This is affecting truckers in the distribution process. 

Lastly, Huddleston says a high inflation rate, 7% in December 2021, is making it harder for smaller retailers to keep their shelves stocked. 

“Unfortunately, we’ve had some challenges with keeping the shelves full,” Huddleston said. 

This shortage is not isolated to just a few items. These three problems are affecting a range of products. 

“It might be canned beans. The next day it could be cookies in the cookie aisle. And the next day it could be tortillas,” Huddleston said. 

Huddleston said the large distribution centers in Texas put the state in a better situation than most. 

“The transportation costs and the travel time is not as great to fill up the stores from these large distribution centers,” Huddleston explained. 

To save money, Huddleston said people should start looking for the store brand items, and to look for loyalty programs that have deals and digital coupons you can take advantage of. 

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Dylan McKim


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