Inland Northwest feels early effects of global supply chain crisis

Credit: Christian Charisius

SPOKANE, Wash. — With the global supply chain struggling, many U.S. states are seeing empty shelves.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the global supply chain took a big hit, and it’s still not what it used to be.

During initial lockdowns, bottled water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper grew in high demand. The problem was that everyone was preparing for the worst and started stockpiling goods for quarantine. 

And while that was almost two years ago, at the peak of omicron, that stockpiling trend is making a comeback. 

The Inland Northwest became all too familiar with scarce supply in January. The seemingly week-long pass closures stranded most deliveries from the westside’s port. Luckily, grocery stores are back where they used to be once the passes reopened. However, some central states are still hurting.

Some are experiencing a combination of truck driver shortages, severe weather conditions, record-high inflation rates, and of course, the stockpilers. 

The omicron surge is clearly the main culprit, but the current state of the supply chain is in jeopardy. Container shipping freight rates are reaching record highs, and traffic is piling up for suppliers who lost drivers due to COVID-19. While some are shipping out produce as fast as they can before it expires, others are putting non-essential goods deliveries on pause.

Many transport companies had to decide what’s a priority to consumers. For central U.S. states, the weather played a big factor with continuous delays still happening. The Inland Northwest can rejoice that most delays came with the weather, along with having a port nearby creating easier access for freight delivery.

Struggling central states are almost out of it too. When national case numbers start to drop and weather becomes calmer, the global supply chain will hopefully return to normal soon.

RELATED: Omicron wave has US food banks scrambling, plus the latest virus numbers

READ: Washington State Department of Health runs out of at-home COVID tests