Have you noticed?

Home Forums Events & Emergencies Economic Crisis Have you noticed?

This topic contains 46 replies, has 23 voices, and was last updated by  Littlesister 5 months ago.

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  • #1541

    Jade Jasmine
    Participant

    Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve noticed something unsettling when shopping. Empty shelves. Have any of you noticed this? I mean, when there is a good sale, shelves will be decimated but there is usually at least one dented can hanging out that no one wants to chance. I started paying attention and I can’t put a finger on it, it isn’t a specific brand or a specific item, and the items in question don’t appear to even have been on sale and it isn’t specific to one grocery store. So I asked someone and the guy just told me truck hadn’t come in yet. So the night folks stock, go in a couple of days later, same thing.

    I don’t know if I’m being paranoid or if my imagination is getting away from me or what but it seems that there is a struggle to keep stuff stocked. I considered that it was simply a shift in mentality by those that are running these store to order once they are close to out of something instead of keeping a regular supply of it coming in. What do you all think?

  • #1542

    Anonymous

    I have noticed the same thing. I have stopped shopping on Mondays because half of the shelves are empty, at least of the most common products. Last winter heavy snow in Idaho and Southern Oregon slowed down deliveries and stores were out of everything in a couple of days.

    My explanation is that stores do not want to keep extra inventory because inventory is immobilized capital that reduce dividend to investors. So they are taking the just in time delivery to the extreme. Any little snag in the delivery system, and the shelves are empty.

    It is just another way to make investors richer at the expenses of rest of us. A weak infrastructure makes a country weak.

  • #1550

    Anonymous

    Another thing I have noticed is that some shelves that look full have just a layer of items in the front and nothing behind.

  • #1552

    Jade Jasmine
    Participant

    Yea, that is something I’ve noticed as well. Someone is always around to pull product forward to make it seem like there is more than what is really there. I’m glad I’m not the only one to notice this.

  • #1553

    Anonymous

    At the main store I shop at the shelves are packed full but we are limited on how many we can buy. Mostly canned vegetables. We started going to different stores. The 10 for $10 means 10 cans period. Not 10 of each, just 10 cans. I could easily buy 90 cans in one sale, now I buy none. I can shop elsewhere for cans.

  • #1558

    DB
    Participant

    Interesting observation JJ. I’ve noticed as well, even at our local Walmarts (not that I patronize them of course <clears throat>…heard it from a guy). Seems to have been going on here for a couple-three years now anyway. Seems like it started with a sudden and drastic reduction in variety, followed shortly by a reduction in quantity.

    Still not sure what to make of all that at the moment, but doesn’t set right in the gut.

  • #1562

    74
    Participant

    I think the smaller inventory seen on shelves is a outcome of modern cost control. It is a form of “Just On Time” commonly used in manufacturing. Companies reduce investment in idle inventories and replace stock as it is sold instead of having reserves.

    • #1568

      HomesteadingMama
      Participant

      I think the smaller inventory seen on shelves is a outcome of modern cost control. It is a form of “Just On Time” commonly used in manufacturing. Companies reduce investment in idle inventories and replace stock as it is sold instead of having reserves.

      That’s exactly it. Profit margins for grocery stores have become much, much thinner in the last ten years. Just in time shipping is a survival method that few stores can do without.

      I wonder if the 3 days until chaos figure needs to be reevaluated? Maybe 2 days? Maybe 1?

    • #1876

      Jade Jasmine
      Participant

      I think what bothers me is Wal-mart has been praised for their distribution network (totally wrote a paper on that at university) an how they fulfill their deliveries to their stores 99% of the time on time by nixing the distribution hubs and going straight to pulling it straight off the train and hooking it up to a truck. They seem to be failing at keeping up a lot these days. I was just at Wal-mart tonight, today the empty shelves were body wash and shampoo. I think that is why the whole thing doesn’t sit well with me. JIT makes sense but seeing it in practice not working is the unsettling part. I think you may be right, too, HomesteadingMama. Perhaps that grace period should be reconsidered.

  • #1563

    Daisy
    Keymaster

    Actually, the past week has been even worse. I had to go to two different stores this weekend to pick up things for just a couple of meals. One store was mostly out of dairy products like cream cheese and sour cream. Another had very few vegetables. There were gaps all over the stores.

  • #1589

    Marianne D
    Participant

    I have been noticing the empty shelves for quite a while as well, in fact one day I told my son I thought a particular store was going out of business because there were so many empty shelves. They’re still going though. Another thing I’ve been seeing more recently is a reduction in the variety of one item. I honestly don’t think anyone needs a choice of 30 different cereals (or any cereals for that matter, but that’s a different topic), but a couple of items I used to get on a regular basis are just gone, and haven’t been replaced by any alternative. Now THAT I’m sure is a sign of the times and the tightening economy, however much we’re being told everything is just hunky dory …

  • #1597

    Crow Bar
    Keymaster

    Seen it at the Lowes.
    Asinine when a very commonly used set of plumbing and they are out of stock.

  • #1600

    74
    Participant

    Obviously 3 days of food stored locally is a myth.

  • #1611

    DB
    Participant

    74-I hear ya’, but it still doesn’t set right with me. And Daisy-reminds me of our local chain grocer, they’re always low/out of milk and milk products. Supposedly we’re in a milk glut as well, nation wide anyway. Just seems off.

    In another life I worked in supply chain and while I agree that the J.I.T. premise is a probably a factor, it still doesn’t fit nicely in my experience.

    I will say if the current J.I.T. situation is the case and the norm now, there will not be 3 days of food on the shelves in an emergency. The way I see it, they’ll be doing good to last the better part of a single day.

  • #1616

    Anonymous

    The JIT supply system was created to avoid waste and accumulation of unused resources. Now it is pushed to the extreme to show that the balance sheet of the companies are in better shape than they really are.

    This explanation was working for me until recently but now, paying more attention to what I see around the stores, it seem a little shaky. While the empty shelves seem common in the food section at Walmart, I see a lot of excess supplies in other departments, especially seasonal items that end up sold at 75% discount just to clear the stock. That seem strange considering that an extra box of pasta will sell tomorrow for the same price it sells today. Not so much for Halloween decorations. Either there is some accounting voodoo going on or something is not right on the supply side.

  • #1888

    DB
    Participant

    DF – it’s voodoo.

  • #1890

    Anonymous

    Darn little dolls. The source of all our problems. 🙂

  • #1927

    Cab Man
    Participant

    “Everybody” carries canned chicken, tuna and salmon, so when I was at Smart ‘n Final I spied canned Pork. Not Spam, canned Pork. 4 cans high, dig in to find 12 cans total usually. So, appears to be a lot, but not deep storage. And now they don’t seem to carry it anymore. Hmmmm?

  • #2305

    Emo Bear Forever
    Participant

    I noticed this very thing when I moved recently and had started to stock up. I really felt like SHTF had happened and I missed it. Before moving, I had not been the one to do most of the grocery shopping so I hadn’t done it in maybe two years. It was such a shock to see so many empty shelves, but most of those shelves were (relatively) filled within two weeks. Our main store regularly runs out of certain things. I have learned that if something you want goes on sale to get it early on in the sale or you’ll miss out.

  • #2539

    Natty Bumppo
    Participant

    All I can say is wow, but I am not surprised. We not leaving our property for almost a year and a half, not seeing a walmart or grocery store all that time….I would imagine would be quite the shock to us.

    With that said, friends and family tell us how food prices are going up. When they speak on the subject, it is always wide eyed, sighing with body jesters implying exhaustion.

    It would be prudent to learn to produce your own and have to ability to defend it. Or learn to do without.

  • #2623

    Whirlibird
    Participant

    I can say with some minor inside knowledge, I don’t always push a broom, that a number of grocery and convenience stores have definitely ramped back the ordering and have little to no backstock.

    Most grocery stores don’t have a warehouse area much larger than a two car garage, floor space that is. Keeping any more than just what fits on the shelf is a challenge to say the least.

    My side gig, the orders are placed twice a week, and only enough to cover the days in between. Especially the items that are short dated like sandwiches, milk and bread.

    Other items, we literally can’t get enough thanks to vendors who do the ordering, certain energy drinks for example, I need 6 cases twice a week and only get two.

    But certain corporations limit the number of items that can be ordered or when they can be ordered.
    Only 3 left before the order can be placed for example.

    Grocery stores also charge a warehouse space fee to the manufacturer. Every slot in the warehouse costs the manufacturer a percentage of their profits.
    So anymore the shipment comes in and is immediately broken down and essentially shipped directly to the stores rather than sitting in the warehouse.

    Convenience stores are run through both warehouses and food distributors so there are added reasons for stuff to be out of stock.

    Personal opinion, theree days is a pipe dream in many situations.
    Major power outage, we are talking hours not days before the food starts to hit critical temperatures in the coolers and freezers.
    There’s a reason why the health department generally requires temperature checks every two hours.

    So long windy response cut short, yes there have been a lot of empty and nearly empty shelves lately.

    I guess the question becomes, do you want to pay more to cover the wasted stuff that goes out of date so the shelves are full?

  • #2625

    Anonymous

    @whirlibird, things I see out of stock quite often are not just short shelf life products or things that have to be refrigerated, which might be understandable. We are talking of pasta and canned food.

    • #2649

      Whirlibird
      Participant

      @Dark Future, I am in agreement with you, and that falls back to the warehouse and JIT ordering.

      Store 341 needs “X”, but the rest are still flush with it, the warehouse isn’t going to rush getting some ordered and if the store is lucky they can transfer some in from another store.

  • #2627

    74
    Participant

    There are places to buy in bulk, I like the local restaurant supply store.

    • #2630

      HomesteadingMama
      Participant

      There are places to buy in bulk, I like the local restaurant supply store.

      We go to an Amish store in our area for bulk goods.

      LDS Home Storage stores would be another possibility, but we have never lived near one of those. In Lights Out the Mormon supply chain and preparedness, stance was laid out. So impressive!

    • #2635

      James Mitchner
      Participant

      As amazing as it might sound, I was once asked to present a presentation on emergency preparedness to a local Mormon church. Go figure!

  • #2642

    Natty Bumppo
    Participant

    I would like to add that there are deals out there if a person is willing to seek it out and have the gift of gab.

    This week we bought 24 of the smoked pork tenderloins by smithfield regularly $3.47/lb for $2 a loin, 84 lbs of sausage for $.99 a pound. 12 lbs of wright pecan wood bacon for $2.5 per pound and finally 20 pounds of chicken breast at an average weight of 1.33/breast for $1.20 per pound.

    We have or are in the process of canning most everything save the bacon and are expecting somewhere around 64+ quart jars. Total $162 (including bacon and extras we kept in the freezer). And enough meat properly managed to last our family of 5 for 6 months. We could make it last much longer, but that is a fair assessment.

    • This reply was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by  Natty Bumppo.
  • #2645

    Old Jarhead
    Participant

    Empty shelves are usually a result of one or more of the following:

    1. JIT is running late
    2. Large, unexpected demand
    3. Unexpected labor shortage
    4. Upcoming inventory for tax purposes
    5. Upcoming liquidation

    • This reply was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by  Old Jarhead.
  • #2653

    Josefina Arenas
    Participant

    Does anyone know what fiscal year structure most grocery stores run on? Is it a calendar year or otherwise? Old Jarhead nailed it that stores will reduce inventory at the end of their quarter or their fiscal year to reduce taxes.

    I, too, have noticed stores running thin on inventory.

    Love what Natty B. did….a great model to follow if I didn’t wince at canning meat 😉

  • #7438

    Littlesister
    Participant

    I also have seen the empty shelves in stores. I do know that around here. The worst time to go grocery shopping is the first of the month. They call that mother’s day here. (food stamps). That is when it is the worst. But I have also seen it at other times as well. When you go into a walmart and the shelves are half empty, it gives you a bad feeling. They crazy coupon people have slowed down around here but still see one on occasion. It has ruined the coupon buying for everyone here. We don’t get half the coupons we used to. They are not much but they do help a little with the bill. I also try to shop on senior citizen day. We get an extra 5% off our total bill. That helps as well. We try to save anyway we can. But for the empty shelves, that is something that I wish I knew the answer to.

  • #7466

    James Mitchner
    Participant

    A new business has sprung up and its to provide storage to retailers for excess inventory that the retailers have ordered ahead of President Trump’s promised tariffs on China and a few others.  The business is providing inter-module storage trailers.  The retailer decides how much storage they want, and these people bring in the trailers and set them wherever the retailer wants.  Its a lot cheaper for the retailer than building warehouse space, and the trailers are there temporarily as needed.

    Perishables, OTOH, like produce, meats, and dairy are not able to be stored long-term.  I imagine some of the empty shelf space in some grocery stores is likely due to the season, inhospitable weather conditions for some producers, and an employee shortage. The Kroger’s I shop at has been woefully short staffed.  Check out lines have been closed except for a few and the stocking of items is sporadic.  I have noticed a lot of new faces recently so maybe they are getting their act together.

  • #7871

    Littlesister
    Participant

    One thing I have noticed in our local Food Lion is that when I go in to shop, everything is pushed to the back. My thinking on this is that they are getting ready to restock, but, are they putting the newest dates in front of that and the older dates are what is pushed to the back. The whole store was done this way. Instead of things to the front it was all pushed to the back. All can goods, boxes of pastas, etc. Didn’t understand the why on this and I have seen it like that for 2 or 3 different times. I now watch my dates when shopping much closer.

     

  • #7882

    Rich Sullivan
    Participant

    The empty shelf phenomena I have not noticed as much as a lack of variety in a lot of stores now which I find annoying. A lot of the products I buy tend to have special features like non-toxic antifreeze for instance or works better than the average product out there, the lack of variety merely pushes me to buy from the Internet more and more something which I am not fond of. I think some of it could be due to big corporate buyouts killing any competing products or other monopolist sort of practices. I also noticed more garbage both in bad taste and in construction. It seems they want to pass out Communist-made goods to us while keeping us at the level of children because God knows why anyone would want to grow up these days, perhaps that is not good for the agenda they have.

  • #7885

    namelus
    Participant

    It’s like 1984 and the Chocolate rant about how people are happier about the new larger (but reality) smaller chocolate and have always been at war with east Asia.

     

    Our local store runs out every week, I have not shopped there for years, but you still hear ranting at coffee shop.  Next nearest food store is 2.5 hours away from this one.

     

    You become a prepper.out of that is the way it has always been.

  • #7894

    Tolik
    Participant

    One thing I have noticed , is that the supply chain on the east coast is an absolute joke ! The west coast , on the other hand , is quite efficient , and reliable . In some cases , its not the availability , but the warehousing , and transport problem ……….again , the east coast sucks that way .

  • #8462

    Natty Bumppo
    Participant

    The local Aldi’s (box grocery) has limited the number of cases of food that you can purchase to one (1).  Now you can call the manager and arrange to purchase your 2 cases of soup, but not if you just walk in.

  • #8465

    Littlesister
    Participant

    That’s not good because I buy for our church food pantry and it’s nothing for me to buy 2 or 3 cases of beans, corn, peas, etc at one time. Haven’t been there yet for this month but good to know ahead of time. Wondering if it is just where you are, or nation wide.

  • #8477

    James Mitchner
    Participant

    I’ve not noticed any lack of inventory other than the occasional absence of an item that may have been on sale and shoppers purchased what was in inventory.  The only buying restrictions I’ve seen at a local Aldi’s is for some ‘on sale’ items.  For instance, before Christmas they put their spiral-cut hams on sale for half price and limited customers to two.  Nothing odd about that.  Retail grocers do that all the time.

    I’m on the East Coast and I’ve not experienced any inventory problems due to transportation or any other means.  I can’t speak for the entire coast, but my area is awash with food items from both inside and outside the country.  But, I’m not so ignorant that I don’t know the supply chain is vulnerable to disruptions from a multitude of reason.

  • #9155

    Red Carnation
    Participant

    After pondering this matter and reading Daisy’s recent article, I have noticed the following:

    • Grocery store remodel/expansion happened recently, yet the meat manager himself told me they made less room for meat.
    • At the same place, we came on a Monday night, and there was very little meat to purchase.
    • This morning, I went to another store that is stocked all day long and noticed that the rice we have purchased there for years is no longer available.  Cashews (which we do not purchase) were almost all gone. Other shelves seemed more bare than normal.  According to one of the workers, they receive TWO truckloads of food daily.

    My takeaway:  If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it’s coming.  Find alternative ways to purchase foods like meat AND stock up on as much as possible.

  • #9165

    Whirlibird
    Participant

    Unless your store is independent, there are corporate decisions that dictate what is on the shelf.

    The decisions for my side gig are made 550 miles away.  By people who don’t know what sells here. Most likely don’t know where we actually are from some of the decisions.

    Something may sell great in one location but not at all elsewhere. So the item is pulled from the “set” for something that sells at a better rate across the board.

    Or for something that gets a better percentage in price point again at a corporate level.

  • #11023

    maxisback
    Participant

    Just in time inventory and a shortage of truckers. It will get worse as the crop failures catch up with the system.

  • #11425

    James Mitchner
    Participant

    I read yesterday in regard to the massive flooding occurring in Nebraska that corn farmers will likely be impacted so as to not be able to conduct their Spring planting.  I realize that corn finds its way into a lot of food items on the grocery shelves.  I also realize that many, if not most, of these corn farmers sell their corn for the making of ethanol that goes into our gasoline… not food.  This trend has already caused the corn supply for food to increase in cost previously.  So, now will fuel prices rise?  Maybe I should have asked, will producers use that as an excuse to raise prices?

  • #11430

    Crow Bar
    Keymaster

    @James Mitchner,
    Great observations and questions!
    Watch and see?

  • #11458

    Littlesister
    Participant

    I agree with what you are saying about the food. I also live on the east coast and finding it harder and harder to buy things I used to buy long ago. As for the corn, you are right about that. As the gas prices just keep rising more and more on an almost weekly bases. Though today when I managed to get away long enough to run to store, they had flour and sugar on sale for 97 cents. So I ran out and got some. Though I do have a lot of flour, I do make my own bread and bickets as well as use it for other things. Sugar I have been a bit low on since Christmas and trying to build up my stock again. With canning season coming fast. I will need it for jellies and such.

  • #11469

    OldMt Woman
    Participant

    Back on our Iowa farm in my childhood, if we had late rains or other reason it was too late to plant corn, we put in soy beans.  Beans have a shorter growing season but due to price difference, were definitely a Plan B.  That’s been many eons ago so I don’t know now.  Hope the flooded areas have a Plan B crop…..  Also hoping they don’t get contamination [chemical, etc] into their flooded fields.  I’ve seen a lot of flooding but…this is a doozy!  🙁

    OldMtWoman

  • #11531

    Littlesister
    Participant

    Has anyone heard of an online place called ButcherBox. You can order your meat and they say it is all 100% grass fed. You order the box of different meats you want and you get 2 lbs of ground beef free for life as long as you are ordering from them. Prices don’t seem to be bad and there are many options you can get. I have been thinking about it but don’t have the freezer room right now. As soon as I get my freezer about half way down, I am going to check into it more.

  • #11544

    namelus
    Participant

    I have heard of butcher box, and in my local area farmers are trying to set up a box service to the main cities 3+ hours away.

    Right now our grass raise grass finished is about $5.25 lb for a side of.beef. The weight  of a side is about 400 lb and finished meat is around 275 lb after bones are done. So you actual cost per lb is around $7 lb.

    Problem becomes with how the beef is processed lots now is wet aged, aged in wet vaccuum sealed bag, it’s  complete scam as it allows for meat to retain alot of moisture and no trim. The taste is sub par at best. There is also problem with bse and pse it’s stress hormone in animals when slaughtering.  Most plants have a 24 hour or less feed lot so animals just trucked in get slaughtered next day, and for dairy herds they add a pain killer into fèed before they ship so the cows don’t drop and can be used as food.

     

    For me personally in past we took our animals to slaughter house 6 to 7 days before with feed, they get there they get watered and fed and on day 6 the stress  markers are gone from meat then they are taken 3 at a time to the kill floor with buckets on head so they back  up into kill stall and are stunned and killed with bucket on their heads they never see it coming.

    We have changed to getting onsite slaughter and process, we walk the pig herd into the area night before they  are watered onlt then led to kill floor in same way. It’s saves us shipping and animals from birth to death are all within our control. Pork cut and wrapped at the big city butcher shop can be as low as $2.35 a lb. We charge $5 lb carcass weight. Cut and wrap is $1.09 per lb carcass weight. Sausages are $3.25 per lb, hams and bacon are a $25 per pig price.

    There are over seas buyers who have a rep that comes monthly to buy pork and air freight it to Asia as chilled pork not frozen. The other local farmers are lucky to get $3.25 a lb for thier pork.

    The differences  that make the money is type of pig

    Feed given to pigs

    How they are raised

     

    Recently we have been approached by a large specialty food chain to supply pork but they wanted a deep discount, and more units. The shock when they where told no was priceless. Good animal husbandry can not be mass produced it takes human time and dedication. Farming is a  life style I chose not a treadmill of growth that is soul sucking.

     

    Like with all things it can be  done well only to a certain point then when too big quality suffers. I know my animals are going to be killed and eaten, but I want thier time here to be enjoyable,  with friends, places to roam and food to eat. We plant “gardens” for pigs to root through, we use their desire for food to help clear stumps and keep them interested, they have toys a stratcher post.

     

     

    Our goal is to be up to demeter standards in 5 years. All food for  all animals will come off our farm complete closed loop.  Big ag could never do this only small local people who care about what they do because profit is not the first priorty to a shareholder but to the animams under our care and second the health and wellness being of our consumers.

     

    So back to the meat question I think it is possible for butcher box to work but would look at these things, where meat comes from, where it is processed and distance between, if they use pink slime or finely texture ground beef additive. What kind of ageing they use. What type of cattle to get the cheapest meat per lb we use a cow called a lowline angus it weighs less per animal but more animals per acre and they have the biggest rib eyes.  Plus they are much easier to handle.

    Ask how long the life cycle of cows are to get to full size on grass raised grass finished takes 3 years, the fat will have a yellowish tinge to it and the meat a purple dark red color not red like in box stores that is food coloring.

     

    Dry age hanging  beef 14 days is 90 percent of the tenderness you do gain more with greater are but you lose way more in trim.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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