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.