Covid-19 Shortages Continue and Could Get Worse

The Wall Street Journal has a terrific article on the current state of consumer supplies. The short version, as many of you have been reporting, is many things that were scarce no longer are, like toilet paper and chicken breasts. Not being a baker or much of a cook and also due to still avoiding doing anything in stores other than very focused shopping runs, I can’t comment personally about other items that got cleaned out due to Covid-19 stockpiling, such as flour and pasta. However, I have yet to see isopropyl alcohol or disinfectant wipes return to area drugstores.

USA Today confirms my impression: Clorox wipes are likely to be scarce through 2021. However, more and more research suggests that the surface cleaning is overdone. Handwashing plus masks masks are the best protective measure, followed by the addition of face shields or goggles. By contrast, all those disinfectants do kill germs, but viruses are a different story The research tends to overhype normal cleaning routines (spraying and wiping), when short-term contact with a disinfectant won’t do in Covid-19. From UC Health:

Soap and water can clean household surfaces – as long as you really scrub. Think about mashing coronavirus to oblivion – which it richly deserves – as you do.

A simple mix of bleach and cold water also works for disinfecting coronavirus: four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water – or, for larger loads, five tablespoons (1/3rd cup) per gallon. With standard Clorox or similar, a five-minute period exposed to those mixtures should kill coronavirus, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Given bleach’s harshness on stainless steel and countertops, wipe surfaces down with water after those five minutes. A plastic toy or metal item can be immersed in bleach for 30 seconds to disinfect. Two important caveats: 1) wear gloves, and 2) don’t mix bleach with ammonia as the combination is toxic. Bleach solution should be used within 24 hours as it loses effectiveness with time.

Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol with at least 70 percent alcohol – undiluted – will kill coronavirus on surfaces in about 30 seconds.

A straight 3% hydrogen peroxide solution takes out rhinovirus – which is tougher to kill than coronavirus – in six to eight minutes, and so should be at least as quick in disinfecting coronavirus.

Did you pay attention? I can virtually guarantee that this is not what most germophobes are doing. Scrubbing with soap is effective but all those American commercials push buying sprays and just applying and wiping. In fact, if you are going to spray something, it needs to be nasty and it needs to sit. I can tell you simply from using isopropyl alcohol, which seldom has warnings about its use, produces fumes and if you breathe them, you get an irritated trachea. That can easily lead to “Do I have Covid-19” worries; I know I reacted that way for quite a while. Bleach is even nastier and regularly gets warnings against breathing fumes. Letting it sit for five minutes is guaranteed to generate fumes.

So IPA alcohol is fastest, yet you still need to let it sit 30 seconds. You are better off moving away and coming back to wipe it off, or just letting it evaporate. And with IPA, 60-70% strength is what you need. Higher concentrations evaporates too quickly to kill the virus. So if you have >70%, dilute it down to the effective concentration.

Given the state of Covid-19 here in the South, we have started judiciously building up our inventories again. Even though our infection rate in Alabama is now slightly less terrible than it was a few weeks ago, that does not seem to be much reason for cheer. Some public schools and colleges are opening. Even though masks are now required in places of business (hooray!), I still see too many people wearing them below their noses or even pulling them down to talk. And since respiratory infection rates are destined to get worse in the winter, due to the drier air being more virus-friendly, some preparation would seem to be in order.

According to the Journal, we’re not the only ones thinking this way:

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in certain states, grocers are reporting a new increase in staples purchases that could lead to scarcity. The even-stronger demand for items such as baking ingredients and paper towels has made it tough for manufacturers to produce the items fast enough to keep shelves full.

Stores are better supplied than during the lockdown crunch, but not back to the old normal:

During the peak shopping spree at the end of March, stores ran out of 13% of their items on average. Now, roughly 10% of items remain out of stock, compared with a normal range of 5% to 7% before the pandemic.

That might not seem significant, but leaving shelves 90% full for half a year would cost the supermarket industry some $10 billion in lost revenue, according to research from trade associations.

For grocery shoppers, it means that someone with 20 items on their list would be out of luck on two of them. Shopper surveys have shown that if people can’t find what they are looking for, they will try a different store, and the retailer risks losing that customer for good.

The Journal also showed types of items still in spotty supply:

And as consumers no doubt recall from the way meat prices spiked during the worst of the crunch, supply isn’t the full story. High prices also serve to create a bit of rationing, since budget-crunched customers will buy less or switch to substitutes. Again from the Journal:

Those of you who garden, can and pickle are ahead of the game. The rest of us are at the mercy of our suppliers. Wish us luck.

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  1. Amfortas the hippie

    there’s lots of disparate things that are unavailable, these days.
    it took me 5 months to obtain plywood and treated 2x 6’s…and the black poly irrigation pipe i put out for drip irrigating trees has been unobtainable.
    “consumer goods”, too….although it’s improved a lot.
    strangely, the regional grocer corps(Lowes/Super-S and HEB) have fewer empty shelves than walmart….and were quicker to find alternative supplies during the worst of it.
    walmart took forever to get paper products…and are still relatively bereft….while the smaller stores somehow started getting mexican paper towels and toilet paper.
    with the death of my dad 2 weeks ago, I’m anticipating coming into some money…how much, i have no idea. so i’ll finally….after 20 years of nickle and diming my autarky preps…be potentially able to afford many of the bigger ticket things i’ve needed around here. well and good…but i worry that those things will be unavailable. I’ve been trying to get a little mantis tiller for the raised beds since the tax return came in in february…ordered one from various places, including the manufacturer itself, seven times…only to have the purchase voided…”out of stock”.
    and i’ve mentioned repeatedly the difficulty in obtaining a few goats….suburban panic buying of frelling goats is a worrying development. and the continuing dearth of goats, 6 moths later, is just strange.
    today, i’ll attempt to get pasture/cover crop seed…millet, especially.
    this is the time of year when the feed store usually has such things, as well as things like wheat and rye seed.
    will i be able to get hold of a minisplit a/c system, in order to radically lower our summertime electric bill?
    or solar/wind, to become a little more independent ?
    or more lumber, roof tin and windows for the cabin/bunkhouse?
    a year ago, none of this was hard to find.
    now, it is.

    1. Pat K California

      Yup, I’m finding out for myself what you mean, Amfortas. I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area where redwood lumber is sort of taken for granted. So I waltzed into Lowes 2 weeks ago for lumber to build two more raised garden beds. Was stunned to discover that the redwood was just … gone. All of it. Apparently the mills had closed down for a month or two when coronavirus hit a peak in spring. Now no one has redwood.

      Wound up having to make due with Douglas fir 2×12’s … they didn’t even have the 2×8’s that I actually wanted. Then had to coat them with linseed oil, for what little good that’ll do.

      The shortages at the grocery store are kinda strange. Oatmeal? Jam? Frozen entrees? The more I see all sorts of shortages … boy, do my hoarding instincts kick in! I now keep two extras of most things instead of just one. I wonder if people hoarding like that are affecting our ability to restock shelves??

      1. Keith

        I am not sure if it is hoarding or getting prepared, but we still have rationing going on here. That said, I have been building my stockpiles, albeit a bit slower than before. I suspect a lot of people are of that mindset, with the doom and gloom of COVID, economic devastation, BLM rioting and the general uncertainty of the times. I suspect it will pick up pace as the election nears and the media goes into hyper drive.

      2. Lex

        In the spring when there wasn’t a roll of t.p. to be had, I walked into a feed store for an item I couldn’t find there, but found an abundance of butt wipe instead. Apparently, farmers and ranchers too like to stay stocked up on the soft stuff and have deep a appreciation for one-stop shopping.

        Since then I’ve been compiling a short list of stores outside my comfort zone to search during the next lock down for much need items. The odds of another lock down grow by the day.

    2. Keith

      Regions seem to be at play here. Up in eastern WA, treated lumber, and lumber as whole has been readily available. I was actually very happy with Lowes and Home Depot, as they stayed open and stocked- FYI Lowes has some nice 50% off of perennials where I was able to stock up on blueberry and cherry bushes. Regarding tillers, Lowes’ Kobalt brand seem to offer a sale on their electric one every week. I have been eying it. Like a high quality item, but I have had success with lot of their tools.

      Walmart seemed to have lots of problems maintaining stock even before the virus hit, so I was not surprised they were slow to restock. Kroger brands seemed to have their poo together, as did Costco. One thing I noticed, though, while my local stores lacked items, like TP, if I took the two hour drive to Spokane, I was able to get my hands on some.

  2. Bill Smith

    Walmart supply may depend on where you are in the country. And what ‘level’ of a Walmart you have. I thought they seemed pretty quick to restock.

    Lots of lumber in the Home Depots and Lowes around me but at the shore not so much.

    1. Carolinian

      I’d say shortages are mostly over but there are certain items that have yet to reappear. Yves mentioned alcohol. In fact the absent items mostly seem to be in the drug realm. Ironically the groceries may have been making more money back at the beginning of the pandemic as consumers rushed to fill their pantries with staples, thereby causing those shortages. Now we are at a new normal where confidence in supply is better and motivation to shop lower. I only go when I have to.

  3. Lex

    We don’t live in a food desert; we live in a food oasis. If I stuck a compass point in a map of our end of town and drew a circle out — oh, say, five miles out from our house — there would be at least a dozen full-sized grocery stores. Not a single one of them has gone out of business. So the sudden absence of the obscene abundance we had so been trained to take for granted was simply shocking!

    Most items have returned to the shelves in the same abundance, with a few exceptions. The trickiest item to acquire was a freezer. Our old Kenmore had been chugging away for more than twenty years and most of those years out in a hot garage. It still worked but it was really just a matter of time… so we had to do something about that this year.

    We finally located one at Lowe’s that was large enough to meet our needs. Then we spent a couple hours with an employee (when we finally found one available) to track down that model at a store 60 miles away. We tried to get the freezer trucked up to the local store but it was a no go apparently. Our request was met with deep apathy. After two weeks of waiting for our freezer to show up, my husband called the store south of us, talked to someone who could confirm they hadn’t resold the freezer we’d paid for, and drove down and picked up the freezer himself and hauled it home, where we moved the freezer down into the basement together.

    Worth it, but yeesh.

    The only other item that’s become a bother is yet another Clorox product — toilet tablets. Can’t find them anywhere. Four toilets in the house, but seemingly only one person capable of cleaning them. I need those tabs!

  4. Cocomaan

    We intensely cultivate about 1.5 to 2 acres and if we had to live off of it we would die of starvation.

    Gardening is amazing but it’s got serious limitations!

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      find a local “wildcrafter”….someone who has studied local wild plants.
      out here, there’s lots of stuff in the woods to eat…mesquite bean flour is probably the most useful, as far as supplementing what we can grow.
      be careful, of course…lots of wild plants have poisonous imitators.
      here, there’s wild onions growing next to death camas in the river bottom, for instance.
      and it’s maybe too late, but the permaculture principal of verticality…and emphasis on perennial food plants, especially trees, is something to consider integrating into your 2 acre garden.
      I plant various squashes…spaghetti, kushaw, butternut, etc…under the mesquites in the gully…they grow without my help all up in the trees, and by fall,there’s all these pod things hanging in the trees….in a large space that wouldn’t be productive otherwise. doing it this way also helps with the powdery mildew that is often a problem with curcurbits, here…sprawling through the canopy allows air flow, and drying out between waterings.
      i do agree…all that said…that feeding ourselves is gonna be a giant challenge.
      the family stories about my great grandparents, living on the homestead and producing pretty much everything they needed, well into their 90’s…it’s staggering, when you think about it.
      giants in the earth in those days…
      combining your efforts with your neighbors is another often overlooked aspect of food production. It’s simply too much work to go it alone.

      1. freedomny

        I agree – studying wild plants for food and medicinal value is important….and it is very rewarding. There are several edibles that don’t have many look a like poisonous imitators – mustard garlic, milkweed, fiddleheads, dandelions, nuts – that anyone can start to look for depending on the season. Also some great books out there to confirm findings along with plant identification apps.

    2. Rod

      I’m with you on that realization–a sobering one indeed.
      but AtH has that solution:
      combining your efforts with your neighbors is another often overlooked aspect of food production. It’s simply too much work to go it alone.
      which is also some work in the 21st century. A lot has slipped away the last half century or so.

      then there is this–sure ya’ll heard it this morning right after the Farm Report.

      1. cocomaan

        Yep, ATH is totally right! There’s good, easy things to grow and then you can rely on specialization for things like protein.

        We manage to stay out of major grocery stores completely by relying on the local farmers to stock up on produce, meat, dairy. It’s also very social-distance friendly to visit outdoor farm stands. After that, we dehydrate and can everything.

        Also, we’ve been considering doing a pig share or cow share with the local neighborhood: everyone pitches in for feed, everyone gets a cut at the end. There’s about 5-6 houses on this back road we live on, and a quarter of a cow is not insignificant.

        1. Rod

          Good on ya’ll–even the low hanging fruit can be tough–(deer trashed ALL my corn last month)
          All the time I think about How and Why Farm Extension/FFA/4H et al are not seeing this and working a solution/system to enable this sort of thing

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            “…Farm Extension/FFA/4H et al are not seeing this and working a solution/system …”
            it’s part of the broader societal taboo about “being negative”.
            The Orthodoxy is that everything will get back to normal in short order…and “putting by” is for fools.
            Extension Guy out here may as well be a rep for dowpont/monsatan.
            totally conventional industrial ag, with lots of the Latest inputs.
            my begging for him to stop promoting the persistent herbicides that pollute the manure falls on deaf ears…eyerolling “oh, you poor backwards hick”,lol.
            as if composting and non-chemical soil maintenance is akin to laundry on a washboard, or some pagan ritual that the enlightened have moved on from.
            how silly of me.
            (of course, compare my dirt with everybody else’s dirt,lol…and the difference in results is obvious)

            1. Pickles

              That’s very strange to hear. I’m involved with our county extension program in WI (Master Gardener/Composter) and it’s the exact opposite. We recently set up a community garden on city land and our extension officer has been essential in helping us net grant money and establish rules, bylaws, etc. She’s been supportive of (and insisted on) an organic-only policy for our space. Truly, we couldn’t have done it without her and she’s been a tireless advocate for organic methods with our city’s gardeners.

              Granted, she’s kind of a one woman army. Our city is around 29k people or so (no idea about county numbers). I’m not sure how extension funding works, but I know we don’t have a lot of it. Sounds like we’re very fortunate here, given your experience!

              As a bit of a side note: It’s strange how things worked out here. We started putting our garden together 3-4 years ago and this is our first year actually operating with the community. The rest of the time was spent securing land and money, establishing ourselves as a non-profit, electing a board and creating documentation. Now, our first year in true operation, a pandemic hits and suddenly EVERYONE in our community is interested in growing their own food.

              That we were ready and able to meet that need is pretty fortunate, all things considered. Now we just need several more of these gardens across our city and we’ll really be on to something!

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                that sounds cool…good luck with it.
                This is rural Texas, in a place with a long history of conventional ag(peanuts…cotton before that…now just cows and hay)
                Extension is a melding of state of Texas ag dept and Texas A&M, one of our public, Land Grant Universities.
                I’ve heard of more enlightened extension people elsewhere…like in Houston and Austin. I’ve also corresponded and called a lot of folks over the years…like the state entomologist, and such…and had zero issues with my regenerative/organic/sustainability methods.
                every extension agent we’ve had out here, though, have been totally dismissive of any alternative to pouring expensive chemicals on everything.
                luck of the draw, perhaps.
                but it does cause me to pull my hair, at times.

  5. dougie

    We are seeing supply lines for the auto repair industry affected. My shop has had a Jaguar sitting on the lot for 3 months for some dealer only suspension parts. Jag closed the parts house in Coventry, and has not reopened.

    In the past, when occasionally having to order Benz/Bmw/VAG parts from Germany, we often had parts in hand in 3-4 days. All bets are off, now. We waited 6 weeks for an ECM (the big brain) recently.

    Also, just plain odd shortages……a radiator for a Subaru, out of stock for over a week. A certain heat range spark plug set for a 10 yo Ford truck? I used to have those delivered in 15 minutes. Last week it took 3 days. Air filters, and other routine maintenance products are not always is stock at local parts stores.

    Last week, my largest parts supplier closed their warehouse in Raleigh for two weeks, due to positive Covid test. FIVE deliveries a day, now arriving via UPS 1-2 days later. My shop manager is pulling her hair out!

    I am very glad I opened a rental car LLC to serve my clients a couple of years ago. We comp the car for up to three days, and find most people are more than happy to have an “in house” alternative, if they need it longer.

  6. Joe

    Forget Mantis. Get a electric mini tiller. Have had Earthwise for three years. Have had Mantis for over ten. First three years with Mantis where great. After that constant carburetor problems. Friend of my who had one rebuilt or replace carb twice. Sold his after three years. Have not tilled with the Mantis in over 5 years.

    1. Rod

      I would disagree–steady use for 11 years of my 4 cycle Honda Mantis and my only problem was priming bulb disintegration 6 years in(easy order and replacement). The big gardens are out back with hundreds of feet to Electric.
      Two best uses for me(after re-tilling behind larger Equip.) are ‘clean up’ hoeing and transplant holes in a jiffy(hard red clay)–also turns the Mulch pile like a fiend.

      Been ‘loaning’ it for reciprocal Labor the past few years(see AtH’s comment upthread), and that has worked pretty ok

      1. Joe

        I am happy to hear you have had a good experience. I should have said battery operated.
        The mantis I have does not have Honda engine.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      The carb issues are because of the crapified fuel they sell these days.
      Try ethanol-free fuel or use Seafoam fuel additive.

      1. Joe

        Agree with the fuel issue. Have tried the above solutions. Now battery operated is way nicer. Chain saw,snow blower,Mini tiller, weed wip. etc.

      2. Lamovr

        93 octane ethanol free gas is just under $7/gallon, worth every penny for 2-cycle mix. Use 100% synthetic oil, drain or run gas tank dry. My mantis is 30 years old, starts on second pull.

  7. Amfortas the hippie

    i’m gonna throw something on the floor that i prolly shouldn’t, so forgive.
    I’m starting to freak out a bit about this inheritance thing.
    my experience with ssi/medicaid is feeding this freaking…wife is on it, and that pays for her chemo, etc.
    My mom says that inheritance isn’t counted as income…but she has zero experience with these poor people programs.
    what i fear, is that it’ll be $10k, and justify kicking her off medicaid…and the insurance through the school would cost us around $10k for the year, due to copays and deductables etc….in which case, why get an inheritance at all.
    I’m in a place of I Dont Know(my mom has never had that problem, lol…always in a place of Certainty, even when she doesn’t know what she’s talking about)
    medicaid is absolutely essential for keeping my wife around for a few more years.
    the online info is…less than clear.
    I’ve never had an inheritance before…and have no clue how all that works…including life insurance.

    1. savebyirony

      I do not know if the rules differ from state to state but I do know from personal family experience that at least in Ohio inheritance is not counted as income and does not effect medicaid eligibility. A family member works for Ohio Jobs and Family Services and was assured of this from the local county Director herself. (i hope this is true in Texas as well)

      1. savebyirony

        I should add that the amount of inheritance involved in my family’s case was a few thousand higher than the $10k amount you reference, but not much. So i do not know if the size of the inheritance changes things in regards to medicaid.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          a quick google search, and a half hour of speed reading offerings from various lawfirms with the word “elder” and “estate” on their letterhead, indicates that it’ll be a problem,lol.
          if it’s 10 or 20k, it’s gonna hurt.
          if it’s closer to 100k(which my brother says is the case, based on random things my dad said over years) it will be more easily dealt with.
          a disconnected ramble through ssi and medicaid….over a week…revealed nothing useful…which didn’t surprise me at all.
          of course, i won’t really know anything until we’re well into the process….which could take a while.
          still waiting on the death cert….brother says 10 days…which has already passed. I expect covid has slowed all that down.
          with probate, your guess is as good as mine,lol
          dad’s lawyer was also his buddy for 40+ years, and i’ve never had reason to distrust him.
          lawyer’s dad was my dad’s dad’s lawyer.
          so at least there’s that.
          i never counted on an inheritance…never expected to get anything from that quarter.
          and being peripheral to my mom and her brother wrangling over my grandma’s estate didn’t shed any light on the probate process, since their acrimony and idiocy clouded even more what is, by all accounts, a complicated and convoluted system.
          thankfully, i’m on good terms with my brother and stepbrothers, even if they think i’m weird….i don’t expect fights and contestation or anything.
          thanks for allowing me space to air these worries.

          1. dougie

            Never underestimate the value of filing a farm schedule with your taxes next year. I am in year three of showing “farm losses” from my brief foray into selling sausage at a local farmers market. You can do this several years with out any “hobby loss” concerns. This was set up and approved by my very conservative CPA, who works with a lot of farmers.It’s quite a nice legal income shelter.

          2. pricklyone

            Generally, Medicaid uses MAGI. Obamacare expansion states allow 133% of Federal poverty level, but Texas? In IL inheritance not counted, as it is subtracted from MAGI. Was not the case a couple years ago, so make sure you get up-to-date info. Ask your Pop’s lawyer to make a phone call, he can get answers quicker than you can. I had better luck with the local office than any of the online crap, or calling the State offices.
            Hope it works out for you Amfortas, they really have got our balls in a vice on these things…
            Sorry about your Dad.

            1. savebyirony

              Second the recommendation of using a local office with a scheduled appointment if possible.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              I’ll try dad’s lawyer, first.
              since i’ll be talking to him anyway.
              if it’s a big enough chunk of change, i won’t worry about it….but we’ve already learned that the ISD insurance will cost around ten grand to even kick in….and i am out of my depth when it comes to insurance(and finance, and all things money, since i’ve never had any,lol)
              my issue is entirely with continuing wife’s care.
              these should all be non-issues, of course, if we were a civilised country.
              Thank you all.

    2. Janie

      Maybe a family trust. In some states you can do it yourself. One may protect your assets from claw backs, and income to the trust may be attributed differently. An acquaintance in another state was able to set one up using internet guides.

    3. Keith

      Tread carefully and get info from a quality sauce, as Medicaid can be a bear. I did some fiduciary work for the VA a few years back, and income can quickly kick you out of the program, at least temporarily. That being said, you may also be able to offset the income through various expenditures, like maintaining the property, or something like that. Key is planning. A good resource that may be free are legal guardians, they often do the work of managing the assets to prevent savings from occurring that can kick someone out of the program. they are not lawyers, but have a lot of experience, and generally work with them. Basically, they keep the cots down from using an attorney. I recall Dallas area had Lutheran Service, who performed these duties at cost, as well as other duties. They might be a resource of info for you.

    4. Rory

      Sorry for the loss of your father. Consider talking to a knowledgeable lawyer, recommended by someone you know and trust. You will pay for good advice, but at least you can rely on it. If your inheritance is “found money”, you won’t be behind by spending something on a lawyer to protect it, or at least know where you stand.
      Best wishes.

    5. Oh

      Be careful of medicaid clawbacks.
      Re the inheritance, if you transfer it to a corp that you form I wonder if it’ll avoid being counted as part of your assets. Others here may know better than I.

    6. DJ

      You will need legal advice. Details are important. Don’t try to wing it. The rules governing these things vary tremendously from state to state. If your Dad’s lawyer seems uncertain, look for an elder law firm, preferably a non-profit organization, that serves low income families. They won’t take advantage, and they deal with these issues all the time. In a case like this, often the paralegals and lawyers working at such a firm can give you the best advice and help for a fraction of the cost you would incur elsewhere.

  8. freedomny

    I moved early winter to a small home that needed some renovations, which I started but decided to stop late Feb until early spring. Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t resume renovations until June. By that time the contractors were all booked up. When my contractor resumed work, there were shortages all over the place because of backlog and distribution issues. I bought a lot of the material myself and was surprised how even the big box stores such as Home Depot & Lowes were impacted – run of the mill tile, usually in stock, was impossible to find….there was only One kitchen sink in the size I wanted that I could pick up at a store within a 50 mile radius – or wait 4 weeks for one to be delivered to my house. This pandemic has shown the weaknesses/flaws within the system and I can’t imagine it is going to be rectified anytime soon.

  9. Arizona Slim

    For me, this has been the Year of Pickling and Fermenting. Call it my New Year’s Resolution. Or whatever you want.

    I’m pretty adept at kombucha, pickles, and sauerkraut. Still getting up to speed with beer and mead.

    This past Saturday, I was shopping at my favorite home brew store. Told the guy behind the counter that, since I couldn’t go to the bar, I might as well learn how to make my own goodies at home.

    Well, guess what. I’m not the only customer who’s saying such things. I’m actually part of a larger trend.

    And, as other people have said about other parts of the economy, some home brewing supplies are hard to get.

    1. pricklyone

      Strange, this weekend was the first time I have seen TP shelf at regional grocery store have any name brand tissue. They have been selling single rolls of some hard commercial stuff for $high a roll since early on. One large box on the floor, shelves barren. Prices are insane on TP. Dollar General has been the go-to for that stuff around here.Shows up intermittently, but they aren’t gouging. As Yves said, I have not seen ‘rubbing’ alcohol since April in any store and online is WAY overpriced if available at all, and you have to pay for hazmat shipping on top…
      The 151 proof ‘drinking’ ethyl was gone in the first few minutes and never seen again, too.
      I buy large sizes of TP on sale anyway, in normal times, so I had some when this hit, and haven’t had to scramble for it, yet, as there is only me, here.
      Perhaps some needed a reminder that ‘just-in-time’, —isn’t.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Me? I’ve been on the hunt for size 8.5 bungs!

        They’re those drilled out stoppers that we home brewers use to put the plug in a gallon jug. The drilled out part is where the airlock bubbler goes.

        As long as my favorite brew shop is out of them, my beer explorations are on hold.

        1. rtah100

          Check with laboratory or teaching supply companies. The bungs are used in school and some undergraduate science labs for connecting glassware (real chemists use ground glass joints!). Buy a set of rubber bungs and a set of cork borers (different diameters bested inside each other) and away you go!

        2. pricklyone

          I had a friend years ago who put a balloon over the top of the jug. Let it inflate and any excess just bypassed the balloon. I think he was doing wine at the time, but same fermentation process.
          Or wrap your airlock with inner tube material until it fills the hole?(sterilized of course) or rubber gasket material(better) from home depot plumbing dept.
          Or use silicone caulk to make a new stopper, molded around tube?

          Can’t keep a good jury-rigger down…!

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and a regular bathtub stopper might be easier to find.
            easier to drill a hole with a drill press…and depending on the rubber, freeze it first.

    2. Kfish

      Same feedback from my local homebrew place. They’re rushed off their feet, but the suppliers are slow in coming through. Same for the poultry sellers – a pen that held 200 chickens for sale now holds 5, because of supply issues.

      The only other shortgage I’ve encountered was hydrated lime – since it comes from overseas to us here in Australia, they didn’t have it on the shelves.

    1. pricklyone

      It’s $29.00 a quart!!
      That is exactly the situation I described, thanks!
      Last isopropanol I bought at 70% was $0.89 per pint. Do the math.
      Last year I could buy a gallon of 99% technical grade for about $20 shipped.
      (used for electronic cleaning purposes)
      I have still seen much better deals than that Healthy Pets place…jeez..

  10. Louis Fyne

    the local grocery stores and big boxes have stopped nearly all weekly promotions on paper goods

    pre-March if one timed your purchase and stocked up, you could easily save 10-20% on toilet paper/towels.

    Big, noticeable inflation boast that presumably won’t show up in “official” BLS inflation figures

  11. Tom Stone

    Firearms and especially ammunition.
    I watch availability as a measure of societal stress.
    Sold out pretty much everywhere and prices have doubled.
    Ammo will continue to be a problem, the copper used to make brass mostly comes from Chile, the miners have been on strike and Covid has affected shipping big time.
    The USA goes through more than 1 Billion rounds of .22 a year, to give one example and the Military a lot more.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “I watch availability as a measure of societal stress.”
      akin to my roadside economic indicators.
      also me and the school nurse watch pharmacy shelves and that aisle in the grocery store for disease surveillance: immodium/pink medicine slot empty/depleted, there’s a gut bug going around.
      school nurse gets out more than i do, but she’s really taken to the idea…for maybe 12 years, now.

      1. pricklyone

        Yep you can learn a lot observing fellow humans and their haunts.
        I wonder about the school nurse, though, as I would think anything that is going around shows up at her doorstep first.
        Maybe I’m just prejudging the little disease vectors and germ factories running around her environment..

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          she reports that since i turned her on to the idea, she can’t go into a store without looking,lol.
          and in a small place like this, it’s effective.
          says she’s was aware of several such outbreaks before they hit at school…although she must wait till the puking kid presents at her office.
          I sure wouldn’t want to have her job right now.
          heard on wife’s “inservice zoom”, today that they’ve hired her some help, at least.
          checking temps at the door, fwiw.
          it’s fixin to get stupid.

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