The coronavirus has shown us just how fragile the United States supply chain operates. A combination of lay-offs, company shut downs, unstable futures market and many other factors have caused short supply's on a number of items, at least temporarily. Let's rundown just a few.

  • Toilet paper. This seemed to be the first item American's hoarded when the virus first hit the media and the US. My mom told me that Costco (in Bozeman) has been out of stock or has been having limited supplies in-stock again this week. I haven't been to the Billings Costco lately, so I can't confirm it.
  • Bleach, wipes and hand sanitizer. These items were rapidly depleted from store shelves in tandem with toilet paper. Manufacturers have ramped up production and many distilleries around the country (and in Montana), switched from making booze to making hand sanitizer.
  • Meat products. The next item to be in short-supply at the grocery store was various forms of meat products. The fact that there are only like a dozen big meat processing companies in the US and almost all of them experienced large outbreaks of COVID-19 in their factories didn't help.
  • Bicycles and outdoor toys like pools. Kids bicycles were almost impossible to find when schools were cancelled and parents were directed to work at home. I finally found a bike for my kid a couple weeks ago at Wal-mart. The literally had like 4 to choose from and 3 of those were the tiny, little-kid bikes. I promptly bought the only one that was her size and took it home. Kiddie pools were also hot items during the pandemic as parents were looking for ways to keep kids entertained at home.
  • Aluminum cans. I just read about this in the news last week. USA Today said it's because people are not drinking at restaurants and are instead drinking at home, therefore more cans of beverages are being sold. Companies like Coca-Cola says they are repurposing cans that would normally be used for some of their less popular brands and are now being used for the top sellers. Bad news for fans of weird flavors, like diet vanilla cherry.
  • Coins. I haven't really noticed it yet much around our area, but apparently there is a nationwide shortage of coins. The Morning Call spoke with US Mint spokesperson Michael White, who said the shortage is because the pandemic interrupted the normal flow of currency around the country. King Soopers, a large grocery chain, implemented a no-change policy last week. Customers have the option of getting their change as a credit on their loyalty card, or donating it to a charity to help feed the hungry.

Then there are some people who believe the coin shortage is a conspiracy to force everyone to use plastic to pay and eliminate cash. Believe what you will, when it comes to theories like that, I guess. I rarely use anything except my debit card to purchase stuff, but I absolutely believe cash should not be eliminated. It's nice to be able to have a few greenbacks in your pocket, for whatever reason you might have.

Have you seen any stores around town not giving change? Let me know in the Comments, or message me on the free Hawk Mobile App!

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