President Joe Biden spoke Thursday on efforts to handle a growing supply chain crisis, suggesting that White House partnerships with private companies could alleviate product shortages and break shipping and processing bottlenecks — but consumers on social media appeared less than thrilled with the president’s plan, tweeting photos of empty store shelves and labeling the president, “Bare Shelves Biden” and “Empty Shelves Biden.”
“Frustrated shoppers complaining about shortages of everyday products in their local stores are attacking President Joe Biden online with the hashtag ‘Empty Shelves Joe’ as the US faces severe supply chain problems that could stretch into the new year,” the Daily Mail reported, noting that the White House has warned shoppers to shop for the holidays now.
“Dozens of cargo ships carrying hundreds of thousands of containers of goods from China and Asia are waiting to dock in California as concern grows about likely Christmas shortages. Some retailers such as Costco and Walmart are limiting sales of toilet paper in some areas and toy company CEOs are telling parents to buy their kids’ Christmas gifts now to avoid disappointment,” the outlet noted.
The problem is endemic and can, reportedly, be traced back to COVID-19 lockdowns in China, which disrupted product manufacturing and shipping from Asia. Contributing was a domestic air travel near-shutdown; if passengers are not taking commercial flights, cargo carried on those flights must be transported some other way. With overseas shipping now mostly done by boat, ports on the east and west coasts are bottlenecked.
There is also a domestic policy component: labor shortages affecting ports, shipping companies, trucking companies, and retail outlets are stalling the process of getting goods on store shelves.
Biden’s solution is to prompt private shipping companies like UPS and FedEx to expand their hours and compel retailers like Walmart to impose round-the-clock operations to move goods to store shelves faster.
Consumers, though, say the moves are coming “too little too late,” and point to White House advisors, like chief of staff Ron Klain, who tweeted that the supply chain shortages and price hikes are “high-class problems.”
An executive at NBC noted bare Halloween displays and asked whether the holiday season would see similar shortages.
Supply chain disruptions already destroying Halloween as consumers face empty shelves nationwide. Is Christmas next? pic.twitter.com/e3NERf1RcD
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) October 14, 2021
Others noted specific shortages in grocery stores:
1-My grocery. There’s plenty of food it’s not as if we will starve. But I’ve never seen empty shelves like this in my lifetime. pic.twitter.com/jz6aQpXFxq
— Sharyl Attkisson🕵️♂️ (@SharylAttkisson) October 14, 2021
No butter #emptyshelvesbiden pic.twitter.com/kFSkcVAaQe
— Lisa Cosmos (@lisacosmo) October 14, 2021
CNN reported Wednesday that the crisis is likely to get worse, citing a report from economic analyst, Moody’s.
“The supply chain nightmare is jacking up prices for consumers and slowing the global economic recovery. Unfortunately, Moody’s Analytics warns supply chain disruptions ‘will get worse before they get better,’” CNN noted. “‘As the global economic recovery continues to gather steam, what is increasingly apparent is how it will be stymied by supply-chain disruptions that are now showing up at every corner,’ Moody’s wrote in a Monday report.”