CLARKSBURG — Across the country, supply chain and goods shortages that began due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to plague virtually every business sector.
It also will be some time before this situation eases, according to West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts.
“From our point of view and certainly what we are hearing from our members is this is a very real issue, a very real problem. And the sooner we get not only the country but the world vaccinated, operating and making goods and products, the sooner we will get back to the more efficient way of life and more efficient way of doing business. We experience the very real issue of interruption in the supply chain,” he said.
Roberts, describing an example of a goods shortage, said he recently got a report from a West Virginia residential community that was attempting to make several upgrades but ran into some issues.
“In this residential community, they buy new appliances and things like that, and they were talking about the difficulty in obtaining certain construction and wood products, things needed in the construction process; they were talking about difficulty obtaining appliances and, of course, we’ve all followed that some of the automobile inventory is running down because of the lack of chips,” he said.
Roberts said he’s heard stories from contractors where sheets of plywood have gone up in price 500% due to high demand and lack of supply, as well as other products a person wouldn’t necessarily think would experience shortages and supply chain issues.
“It cuts across a wide spectrum of needed materials, and it’s a reminder to us that the marketplace functions very well until it’s been interrupted. And when it’s been interrupted, it can really take some time to restock and increase production and get things shipped. Plus, there’s a huge shortage of truck drivers right now. So exactly how to ship things is a problem when you don’t have enough people moving the goods that need to be shipped,” he said.
According to CNN Business, computer chips, steel and other metals, chlorine, poultry and even packets of ketchup are among a long list of items that are becoming scarce, causing the remainder to inflate in price.
In the restaurant business, Cody Thrasher, owner of White Oak’s Cody’s restaurant, said the supply chain issue challenges are very much alive.
“It’s been difficult, even down to stuff like mint. It’s hard to get. Our purveyor, they aren’t even offering what they were before. There was one that I was working with, a Charleston company, and they said, ‘Hey, we aren’t going to do produce anymore; we are only going to do seafood.’ Meat prices are crazy right now. So for us, we have to adapt,” he said.
Thrasher said it seems like prices of meat have doubled out of nowhere.
“It’s really strange to me and really frustrating. Chicken’s never been over $2 a pound for us, and it’s $3 a pound right now. I’ve never gotten chicken, in all these years I’ve been doing this which is over a decade now, to have those prices at that level. And it’s such a staple item, that that puts a huge dent in everybody.
“I mean that’s a 50% increase in cost, and we are all on super slim margins to begin with, which is the nature of the industry. We knew that getting into it. You’ve got to really love what you do to go in there and get it done, but we are fortunate to where we can change our menu and adapt way easier than other places,” he said.
When the purveyors are carrying fewer items, Thrasher said he assumes that means the wholesalers they are buying from are as well, and there’s not really a definitive answer as to when the supply chain could get back to normal.
“Nothing more we can do except practice sound business ideas, watch what we have, no excess waste … we…