Shoppers are starting to notice empty shelves in the grocery store and retail chains like Walmart, reminiscent of the lockdown periods we experienced last year. The United States is not currently locked down, so why are we seeing a repeat of shortages?

The answer to that question depends entirely on who you ask. 
If you ask the current administration, the unvaccinated are at fault, but it seems a stretch to draw that conclusion when truck drivers are uploading videos of themselves and other truckers waiting around for cargo to be unloaded at the docks. These videos show parking lots filled with trucks, yet no movement by the crane.

There are also many videos circulating showing hundreds of ships parked off the coast of both eastern and western ports, waiting to be permitted entry. Some have been directed to the gulf.

Yet, having foreign imports tied up at port doesn’t explain the shortages of local produce.

If you’re a business struggling to overcome these inexplicable problems, you will benefit from working with a company offering logistics management consulting. A logistics consultant brings experience from a broad range of industries and can put a plan in place to streamline your processes and improve communication to reduce lead times, find alternative suppliers, and arrange shipping with local carriers.

Here are some short-term solutions your business can implement right away:

1. Update shipping and delivery policy for customers to accurately reflect realistic dates so the customer knows what to expect in advance. 
2. Stock up on non-perishable items whenever possible. If you can secure additional stock, acquire additional storage, if needed.
3. Find alternate suppliers within shorter distances to your location.
4. Find alternate means of transporting goods, if possible. That may entail hiring another service.
5. Source goods from other local businesses if they can spare product.
6. Offer alternative items for sale. 

It’s hard to say how long short-term solutions will hold a business over when there doesn’t seem to be a strategy in place to alleviate the situation. We do know that prices will increase – and we’ve already seen the evidence this is happening. This is the time of year when demand increases for many different industries as we head into the holiday season. Shipping demands increase, as well. Facing shortages and shipping problems is going to put a huge damper on holiday sales and impact the bottom line of many businesses. We are likely to see the effects reverberate in the stock market as businesses release their year-end numbers. 

 We are facing unprecedented times and many businesses will survive by creativity and innovation or close their doors as they fall victim to the system. Now is a time when we are being compelled to fight for survival by any means necessary. That will mean having to do things we don’t want to do and try things that are completely out of character. But the businesses that emerge after all these Herculean tests will be stronger businesses and are more likely to prosper in the future.