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Grocery Shoppers Are Complaining That Shortages Are At An All-Time High

Over 70% are seeing more now than they did in March 2020.

Inflation is reaching new heights each month and rising grocery store costs are forcing shoppers to make some changes. But this isn't the only hurdle they are facing at the moment—nearly three-fourths of shoppers say that out-of-stocks are worse now compared to two years ago.

With continued supply chain problems, the conflict in Ukraine, droughts, and staffing shortages, it is no secret that shelves at supermarkets aren't back to what they looked like before March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started. But new data published by Retail Insight published on March 21 shows that not only do 71% of the 1,000+ shoppers surveyed think there are more shortages than ever, but 61% think online stock is worse, too.

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This time around it isn't toilet paper and cleaning supplies that are sold out. The latest reports say that milk, canned goods, cream cheese, pasta, and a few others are the items that are the hardest to find at grocery stores. While 66% of survey respondents believe better pay and working conditions for warehouse and store employees would help, instances around the world are only adding to the problems.


Wheat is also facing shortages—and it could get worse thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That area in Eastern Europe is nicknamed the "breadbasket of the world" because about a third of the world's supply is grown there, but right now Russia is not exporting any and Ukrainian farmers have halted production amid the conflict and rising costs.

Those costs are now being reflected on grocery store receipts, and to combat that and the continued shortages they are reaching for more store-brand items than normal. Rodney McMullen, the CEO of America's largest grocery chain, Kroger, recently said that the company is "starting to see customers engaging in coupons a little bit more aggressively than before and starting to move to [Kroger's store brands], where … they can save more."

This last trick is not new—shoppers relied on this method at the beginning of the pandemic—but now the number of store-brand items is higher thanks to that increase in demand. It's one that could also come in handy should an item on your grocery list be out of stock because of the shortages.

Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda