So what shortages are you personally seeing?

But I don’t even get that feeling. I’ve mostly been doing curbside pickup the last year and half because of health reasons, but I’ve recently improved, and have started going back into actual stores. But, aside from adding some self checkout counters, my local grocery store seems largely the same as before COVID. And my local store isn’t even that big, so if there was a problem with supply, I’d expect them to be hit first, rather than the larger, fancier stores.

They absolutely would, if they were experiencing significant shortages of some items and were competently run. As you point out, the shelf space is valuable! But, possibly moreso, the perception of abundance is very important to stores. They know you associate empty shelves with K-Mart or the Dollar Store, and that is not a favorable association. If Safeway has empty shelves, but QFC does not - even if they actually have the same shortages - shopper will gravitate to QFC.

When I did my walk-through Safeway, in addition to just trying to spot some empty places that may have cropped up before they had a chance to re-sort, I also spot checked specific items I remember being unable to find early in the pandemic. Next time I go, I’ll check in on the cat food supply…

The shortages I’ve seen, however, have mostly been intermittent and highly variable. I very much doubt that it’s practical to reorganize the whole store every few days. And for all I know, the bare shelf I see at 3 in the afternoon was full at 6 in the morning.

Some of the space that was for missing brands of cat food has been filled in with something else. But the gaps in the brands that are being delivered, I expect, are flavors and types that are being delivered intermittently. And the paper goods aisle is sometimes filled up and sometimes not; ditto with any specific brand; ditto cleaning products, etc.

I’m not imagining a full store reorganization per se, but stocking a whole bunch more coke where previously you would have had dr pepper rather than having the empty dr pepper section.

If you actually have a whole bunch more coke, that might work.

Of course, if you don’t know whether the Dr. Pepper is going to show up tomorrow, then you don’t know whether you’re going to have to spend a lot of time moving that extra Coke back out of there to make room for it.

Sure. And if you don’t, use Sprite. Or Diet Coke. And if you just flat out don’t have enough product of anything, then you’re kind of screwed. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening.

True. My point is that most stores are willing to do that work twice to avoid the appearance of bare shelves. Of course, there’s a limit - stores have a small amount of bare shelf space at most times and always have. They’re not going to pay a bunch of staff to frantically run around shifting around soft drinks every ten minutes. But the desire to project abundance is real, and certainly enters into stores’ calculations.

On a lot of items, of course, I’ve got no idea to what extent they’re doing that; I’m only going to notice something’s missing if I ordinarily buy it, or if half the aisle is empty (and maybe not then; there are entire aisles I don’t always go down.)

And you’re right about the desire to project abundance. I sell at farmers’ markets, and have gotten pretty good at making the stand look as full as possible when I don’t have much to bring, as well as at jamming as many possible items into limited space when I do have a lot of different things to bring. But then, I’m setting up and taking down every day I sell anyway; and when I adjust things during market, I do it during slow spells, and I do it knowing for sure what if anything I’ve got reserves of with me to restock from.

One of the advantages of wearing a mask, it cuts into the nasty smell of those cinnamon things.
One of the drawbacks is not being able to smell candles, air fresheners, etc. to pick the scent you want,

OK, so Amazon did not have the usual canned gunk for the Princess (Friskies Pate seafood assortment, 32 cans). Instacarting Smart & Final will work, but I hit one oddity: they would only allow me to order one can of Mary Kitchen roast beef hash per order. They did allow 3 cans of Campbell’s Chunky Clam Chowder. Strange how limits are set up at this store (clearly a store restriction, not an Instacart-ism).

So exciting update time. I went back to the local Safeway to pick a couple of things up. I checked out the cat food aisle. While litter and dry food did seem to be abundance, wet food was very hit-or-miss. Lots of gaps on that shelf. You could certainly get some type of wet food - there was plenty there still, but if your cat is picky about which brand/type of food they eat, I could see how it’d be a problem. Still the only major gaps I’ve seen at that particular store.

Looks like Chewy might have it.

Sorry to double post. In my email today:

Dear Subscriber,

The November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine will likely arrive later than usual.

Our printer has informed us that, because of supply chain delays and labor shortages, magazines will leave their plant ten days later than scheduled. In addition, post office delays continue to affect delivery times in many regions of the country. These factors—which are impacting not just Poets & Writers Magazine but also book publishing and many other industries—are beyond our control and, unfortunately, they mean that our November/December issue may reach you up to two weeks later than usual.

Phooey. S&F was out of stock on the cat food, but Target purports to have it in stock, so I’ll pick it up once I have the car this afternoon (needed laundry detergent anyway and they had a worthwhile offer on my preferred variety).

Part of the complication with cat food is that I feed a mix of different brands and flavors. If the store’s well stocked, I can pick up a mixed case or two in person with no problem. But if I order from Chewy or whoever, I have to buy a whole case of one flavor; the only mixed cases available are in the tiny little cans, and I’m feeding three cats. Getting the sort of mix I’m used to getting would involve buying about 8 cases all at once.

Availability issues have led to my currently having a lot more of some flavors than others; maybe instead of waiting till I’m closer to running out in the hope of being able to get a mix at the brick-and-mortar, I should check whether Chewy’s got any of what I’m relatively low on and, if so, order some of that while I’ve still got something else to mix it up with.

Our Amazon subscription includes (among other things) Cascade pods, Jet Dry, and Charmin.

We had opted to skip this month’s Charmin shipment as we still have a full unopened case (though we’re about to crack that); hopefully next month’s will arrive. Weirdly, the website said that the Cascade and Jet Dry were both out of stock - but both wound up arriving.

Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream seems to have become vaporware. We keep trying to order it with our grocery delivery and they keep sending us the green-dyed store brand. Or maybe the shopper is careless.

I am really glad we bought a car last year. We had been holding out as long as we could with our old CRV (15 years old this month) and Civic (bought in late 1998) but when the Civic died we got the new car. If we’d managed to hold out another 6-8 months we’d have likely had a lot of trouble replacing it.

The website saying it’s out-of-stock doesn’t necessarily mean there’s none physically in the warehouse; it’s means that any that’s there on-hand is already assigned to an order. So perhaps they did have it on-hand, and it was assigned to your order. Or, alternatively, they received a shipment and immediately shipped it all out to you and other waiting customers. Or, there was a glitch… always possible.

We decided to get a bunch of house reno stuff done this year, because we could see inflation coming a year ago, and durable goods and investing in your primary asset are a good hedge against inflation.

We re-did our patio, and had to pay an extra $400 for some plywood that would have been probably $75 a couple of years ago.

We ordered a hot tub, but have been told that it won’t be delivered until April of next year due to ‘production difficulties’. This from a large spa manufacturer.

I have also been told that it could be iffy getting an electrician to put in the wiring, because there is apparently a global shortage of GFCI breakers.

BTW, the landscaping company couldn’t find enough workers, so the owner bought a small front-end loader which he says replaces four people. Those jobs aren’t coming back.

We were also considering buying a Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck, but supply shortages have created a huge waiting list. I don’t think you can get one now until probably 2023, maybe 2024. And by then, they’ll probably be 10-20% more expensive due to inflation.

There seems to suddenly be a shortage on Fiber One Chewy Bars, Oats and Chocolate. My supermarket and Amazon are now both out.
Looks like ShopRite might still have them.

That worries me, since DH is an electrician (he does mostly commercial/industrial construction).

Grooming supplies seem to be fairly limited right now.

Can’t find clippers anywhere, nor the 5 in 1 blades that go with them. Be interesting to see if anyone gets them restocked before I run out of functional ones.