TYLER, Texas (KETK) – It’s hard to find anything these days, from school supplies for students, groceries for your family, and even pet supplies for furry friends.
“I’ve seen sticky notes everywhere, you know…call this person when this gets in so yeah there is a little list you might say,” said Judy Parsons, a Petsmart Employee.
One long-term effect of the pandemic that has affected communities alike is shortages which have taken its toll on millions of Americans nationwide including East Texas.
“You’re going from store to store looking for things and then you’re wasting your gas money and then you’re paying a higher price at another store for this product if you find it,” said East Texan Betty Bearden.
Bearden is just one of many shoppers in the East Texas area who has been frustrated with the lack of items in stores. She said she started turning to the internet for more basic goods.
“Most of it is due to the covid you know pandemic. Retailers are not using that as an excuse. That actually is a real situation,” said Parsons.
One of the many stores that have experienced shortages first-hand is Petsmart. The one located on South Broadway Avenue in Tyler shared what they are struggling to restock most.
“Various dog foods and cat foods that’s what we’re seeing a shortage on now. Not a big shortage. Not enough to say oh let’s go panic buy everywhere. It’s just you know, sometimes it might be later getting here or you know it’s just they’re waiting on the ingredients themselves,” added Parsons.
Petsmart employees said they have a lot of certain brands and flavors, but if someone is looking for something specific, there is a high possibility they may not have it.
“The manufacturers are having trouble getting the products in and the ingredients’ in. Sometimes it’s workers in the factories, you know they’re having a shortage of those and then the shipments of getting it here, so there are various reasons why we’re not getting some of the products,“ explained Parsons.
In some areas of the store, there are empty shelves. To make the shelves look less bare, a trick stores use is stocking them with a lot of the same product.
“At Petsmart, we sell the products, we don’t manufacture them so we’re kind of at their mercy,” said Parsons.
The store has not just had a shortage of products. Petsmart has had a shortage of small animals like birds and hamsters.
“Even with reptiles or snakes like we haven’t gotten a snake in like 6 months now and as far as our bigger birds, we almost went a whole year without them before we saw one canard and we sold him fairly quickly,” said pet care specialist Jacqueline Rudalcaba.
The reason is many breeders haven’t been breeding as much due to the effects of the pandemic.
“The main thing is just the covid restrictions, so it’s been harder to travel so certain breeders can’t get to certain locations, certain people, other types of animals,” added Rudalcaba.
Even locally owned businesses are struggling with the nationwide shortage, like Everything That Blings, a boutique in Kilgore.
“I will find myself having to turn people away because the inventory that I saw that was coming that should’ve been there won’t come until that following Monday. That’s frustrating,” said owner Jacqueline Henly. “We’ve had to find new whole sellers or new ways of doing it because a lot of the businesses didn’t make it through covid.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the only way to solve the massive shortage is to tackle the source.
“The best way to end a pandemic-related shortage is to end the pandemic,” said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg said the recently passed $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill will fix some of the problems, but local experts say we will continue seeing shortages into the new year.
“You got the port itself is kind of like a landlord. Then you got the terminal operators, then you got the truckers And all of them are interacting with competing shipping companies, right to try to efficiently move these containers,” added Buttigieg.
Businesses said they are doing what they can to satisfy customers through the delays.
“What do you do? You improvise, you do the best and give the best customer service that you can possibly give in a time like this,” said Ben Marmolejo-najera.
If customers can’t find an item, retail workers suggest finding and substituting it with something similar.
“Usually if they can come in and let us help them, then what happens is we can find them something very comparable to what they’re looking for,” said Parsons.
Customers can also plan ahead and order items in advance like the way many who are holiday shopping earlier to make sure they check off every wish list item.
“I’m about through with Christmas shopping because I hear the rumors that they’re going to run out of everything,” said Bearden.
Experts said all we can do is wait.