Pandemic shortages: Items with low stock and high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted nearly every aspect of life over the past year – not to mention the U.S. economy and supply chain. Scroll ahead for a look back at all the products consumers had trouble finding over the past year.

Hand sanitizer: As panic over the COVID-19 pandemic spread, consumers rushed to stores to stock up on germ-killing hand sanitizer in the spring of 2020. Stores quickly sold out, forcing Americans to get creative by making their own hand sanitizer with alcohol and spirits.

Toilet paper: This household necessity was mind-bogglingly difficult to find during throughout the spring of 2020. The shortage was largely caused by consumers over- and panic-buying while predicting a long-term lockdown.

Freezers: As Americans bought more food in bulk to freeze for later, the available freezers became hard to come by in the spring of 2020.

Face masks: The U.S. supply of N95 masks was already running low when the pandemic reached our shores last spring and persisted well into the summer of 2020. As a result, medical professionals resorted to reusing the ones they had on hand for months.

Disinfecting wipes: Brands like Clorox, Lysol and others had their wipes flying off shelves in the spring of 2020 as Americans fought the COVID-19 virus.

Thermometers: With fever a key symptom in COVID-19 diagnosis, personal thermometers also began to sell out in the spring of 2020.

Flour: Baking became a popular indoor activity as stay at home orders remained in place in Spring 2020.

Yeast: Another necessary baking product, yeast, sold out in many grocery stores in the spring.

Gardening equipment: Gardening offered a welcome outdoor activity last spring.

Web cameras: A nationwide shift to work and school-from-home setups left Americans struggling to connect virtually. The devices began selling out in Spring 2020 as the shift into the home became longer term.

Affordable existing homes: The housing market didn't slow down during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, potential homebuyers faced additional obstacles. Lending standards from mortgage companies tightened during the pandemic and inventory of affordable homes was scarce as bidding wars became common.

Kayaks and canoes: Like other outdoor activities and gear, kayaks and canoes began to sell out last summer, as warmer weather allowed folks to get outdoors.

Outdoor pools: With families trapped inside for many months during the pandemic, outdoor pools began to sell out as summer hit full swing.

Trampolines: Like outdoor pools, stock of trampolines (a summer staple) became scarce last summer.

Bleach: Stocks of this cleaning staple were limited in the summer, when in addition to indoor disinfection, swimming pool owners used it in place of chlorine tablets.

Bicycles: Eager to get out of the house, Americans flocked to bike stores last spring and summer to pick up a two-wheeled ride.

Camping equipment: Last summer, with people eager for a vacation but nervous about staying in hotels or resorts, stocks of tents, hammocks, coolers and other gear were limited.

Fire pits: The warm weather of summer 2020 provided an opportunity for people to get outdoors and sit by a fire pit.

Roller skates: Stock of roller skates ran low last summer as well.

Work-from-home desks: Desk stock dwindled in late summer as the 2021-22 school year approached but kids remained at home.

Used cars: The pandemic increased demand for used cars, forcing prices up around last summer. Things may not be much better in 2021: A dearth of semiconductor chip production is cramping new-vehicle production, limiting the availability of certain models in the coming months and threatening to raise used-car prices as buyers hunt for alternatives.

Dumbbells: Home workout equipment became hard to find during throughout the spring and summer the pandemic as health clubs remained shuttered and Americans set up home gyms. 

Seeds: Even into early 2021, gardening supplies were still affected by the pandemic.

Grape-Nuts cereal: According to the cereal's parent company, the process of making Grape-Nuts is complicated, making it difficult to keep stock. After a shortage that began in the fall of 2020, production was back to normal by March 2021.

Heinz ketchup: The classic ketchup brand ran into shortage issues with its single-serving packets in the spring of 2021. After giving them out with drive-thru, takeout and delivery orders throughout 2020, restaurants also replaced bottles with packets on table tops when they were allowed to resume dine-in service.

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