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Empty grocery shelves frustrate shoppers

Consumers say they've noticed the effects of supply shortages at grocery stores. This comes as the Consumer Price Index rose 7%, according to the Labor Department.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — For some customers, weaving through grocery aisles was once an easy task. However, empty shelves are now making shopping trips more difficult.

"We have nothing," said Sherry Baade, a York County shopper. "Can't find the things I want, can't find the regular things I was able to find before."

Customers said they've noticed everyday necessities like milk, bread, canned soups and paper towels are more difficult to find.

"[It makes me feel] like I live in a foreign country, like I live in the Soviet Union and we are having everything rationed out," Baade added.

Economists said the high absentee rate in many industries like trucking and retail prevents goods from shipping at a fast rate. That creates delays in getting grocery shelves stocked. 

"You've got men and women who liked their job and were still doing their job and then COVID comes along and it makes their job so much more difficult and challenging, and they say 'You know what? I'm just gonna retire anyway,'" said Steve Tracey, the Executive Director of the Center for Supply Chain Research at Penn State University. 

As the demands for goods increase, so do the prices. On Wednesday, Jan. 12, the Department of Labor released a report that said the Consumer Price Index rose 7% in December. Gas, health care and rent rose 0.5%.

For items grocery stores are unable to receive, employees are forced to find other vendors.

"It's frustrating but we work through it, we have to," said Courtney Conrad, a Karns Manager. "Everybody's got to make everybody happy." 

Economists predict shelves will eventually return to normal, but the timeframe for when that will happen remains a mystery.

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