RICHMOND, Va. -- If you’re coming back from the grocery store without all the items you planned to purchase, you’re probably not alone.
Businesses across Central Virginia are reporting difficulties obtaining certain supplies and price hikes on some necessary products.
“The way this business is, is you run out and people want it tomorrow or today, so it’s been hard,” said Elizabeth Vranas, the owner of For the Love of Chocolate.
Even with rows of candy lining her store, Vranas said she saw something else.
“I mean, I look around here and I know this sounds crazy, but all I see are holes,” said Vranas.
Since the summer of 2020, Vranas said she’s noticed a shortage of certain items and the rising prices of others.
“There are a lot of products that, for some reason or another, I just can’t get. And I’ve been having to go to other suppliers, like in Texas, just because they seem to have what I need but I can’t get it for a month,” Vranas said.
Just across the street in Carytown, another business experienced a similar, but unique scenario.
“So, this is one of our products, it’s one of our top-selling items. This is made from our female artisans in Bangladesh,” said Aisha Eqbal, Executive Director of Ten Thousand Villages, as she held up a woven basket. “Even with something like this that’s such a top-selling item like right now we have maybe 20 in the store, we usually have like 60.”
Eqbal said the fair-trade store worked with artisans in developing countries. She said since the pandemic, the import and export of those products have taken a hit.
“It’s almost like we’ve been made to get a new product we haven’t carried before,” said Dakota McCormack, Ten Thousand Villages, Sales Floor Manager.
But the supply shortages expand beyond that.
In Chesterfield, Brian Schrimpsher, Owner of VA Cars, Inc, said at the used car dealership, inventory had been a challenge, with the usual goal of keeping 400 to 500 cars at the stores nearly impossible now and a team of people working around the clock to keep cars coming in.
“COVID threw a wrench in everything, and then it created all of these little blips across every supply chain,” said Jeff Smith, Professor and Chair of the Supply Chain Management and Analytics Department at VCU.
Smith said when that culminates, it leads to shortages everywhere. But those shortages are dependent on where you are regional.
“The materials may be sitting at a port or at a dock on a ship just offshore but it's almost impossible to get everything moved where you need it right now,” Smith said.
Smith said without the supply, the demand will pay more for what’s available, hence why prices are rising.
He believed that would be the trend for the next couple of years.
“We need to kind of understand that all these things come from far away,” said Smith. “We need to start thinking about alternate supply lines. If you're a small business if you can — find a local supplier.”