Anyone else tried to get a forklift lately? If not, let me tell you: It can be an eye-opening experience.
Ordering the forklift is no problem. Getting it requires a bit of patience. Eighteen months of patience to be exact.
Remember the days when we used to worry about seeing enough toilet paper on store shelves? And if it wasn’t there, we found ourselves having to go to a different store? Those were the days, huh?
But these are different days.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the ever-widening economic ripples that the pandemic caused continue to hit all sectors of the economy, including here at ACS. Tried to hire a commercial plumber lately? It’ll probably take three days. Looking for a CHEP pallet? They ran out, and now they are hard to find. Buying regular wooden pallets? Expect to pay two to three times as much.
We have a customer who last year shipped a container of seafood to our facility from Asia. It cost $5,000. This year, that same load would be $30,000 and take three months. It’s no wonder that large companies like Costco are buying their own ships and shipping containers.
A story in The New York Times on September 29 said pandemic-related shutdowns of factories in Vietnam will affect the apparel and footwear industries. CNBC reported in early September that paint is the next thing that is becoming costlier and harder to find.
Shortages lead to higher prices. Higher prices cause inflation. Inflation pushes some companies out, which can lead to shortages. The cycle continues until, inevitably, it starts to feel like the 1970s. When the leisure suits start hitting the racks, that’s when we should really worry.
So where’s the silver lining? Other than crossing off “painting” from the “honey-do” list, it may be hard to see. However, it’s good to keep in mind that much of life is about holding on and playing the long game. Prices rise sharply, then slowly settle. Markets shrink, but they can also grow. Leisure suits fall out of favor. We continue to take one step forward and, sometimes, a couple of steps back.
And, for now at least, we seemed to shore up the toilet paper infrastructure. That was a good step forward. Now, let’s work to find another one.