Bay Area Shoppers See Empty Store Shelves Once Again

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Shoppers across the Bay Area once again are encountering empty shelves in grocery stores amid the latest COVID-19 surge and an ongoing supply chain issue.

Economists say it’s a situation of people calling in sick with COVID and supply chain delays colliding.

“I was looking for milk, I noticed that milk was very hard to find,” one East Bay shopper said.

Here we go again. If you’ve been to a store lately you probably noticed that grocery store shelves are becoming empty. Economists say it’s a situation of people calling in sick with COVID and supply chain delays colliding. Cheryl Hurd reports.

And the East Bay mom said that’s not all.

“Toilet paper, cleaning supplies,” she said. Everything from milk to medicine -- gone.

San Jose State Economist Robert Chapman Wood, who specializes in strategic management, said the supply problem can be blamed on the omicron variant.

“So we have millions and millions of people who’ve got COVID, and what are they going to do? They stay home,” he said. “If they stay home, they’re not moving the food off the pallets.”

Shoppers sifting through empty shelves are noticing the change and dealing with it because they’ve been through it before.

“It’s just the way times are now. They’ll pick up, they’ll change,” said a shopper.

Investors are seeing the pressure it’s putting on companies and bracing for high cost for labor, transportation and of course food.

“There’s a big problem getting ships to unload things in ports because things backed up during the peak of COVID,” said Chapman Wood.

COVID cases and hospitalization have hit record highs in the U.S. as the highly-contagious variant spreads.

“It does appear that omicron is not as severe as alpha and delta so probably things will get somewhat better,” said Chapman Wood. “It’s really hard to predict how long that will take.”

The professor suggests people stock up on what they need, but they shouldn’t go overboard.

Experts said because of that scarcity, pretty much everything from groceries to coffee, to cars and even the electronics are likely to cost a little more for at least another few weeks.

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