Sold Out

Online shopping has taken the world by storm, but an excess of buying has caused major supply shortages

Gracie Schwarz, Copy-Editor

The light from a computer illuminates a dark room, the screen projecting the image of an online shopping experience. With the click of a button, any object can be viewed, purchased and shipped for a small fee.
This accessibility has taken the world by storm, and although it has created a sense of ease, it has begun to create a multitude of problems within the economy.
The state of the situation with shortages has evolved over time, but the problem arose mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and thus a lack of workers in factories. Alexander Edwards, an American Government teacher at Nixa High School, says shipping is a main drawback for shortages.
“As more workers went back to work, we had an influx of goods needing to be moved, creating bottlenecks,” Edwards said. “There’s an explosion of things being made, but not enough truck drivers, trailers or capacity at our ports for ships to dock. This makes it difficult to ship and move the goods from one place to another.”
The products and goods that are in short supply have changed since early 2020.
“At first it was cleaning supplies, then supplies related to COVID,” Edwards said. “Now we’re noticing common consumer goods such as clothing or automotive finished goods. In general, it’s things that get stuck at ports for long periods of time.”
Certain businesses can use the shortages as a way to increase prices for consumers, creating more of a profit for the enterprise.
“It always trickles down to the consumer, so we face higher prices,” Edwards said. “The people producing the goods are having a hard time getting it to their consumers, so they’re having a hard time themselves. These types of shortages always disproportionately fall on the consumer; during the COVID pandemic, corporations lost money because people weren’t spending as much, now they’re trying to recoup and make up for that money by increasing the prices. If you look at certain corporations, their profit is as high as it ever has been.”
Certain shortages have led society to move towards an easier way of purchasing goods — through the phone or computer screen. Senior Brooke Gomas has utilized this new way of shopping.
“I like shopping online better, usually there’s a bigger variety to choose from and most stores do returns online anyway,” Gomas said. “It’s nice that I don’t have to get out of bed or waste any extra gas. Also, it feels like a present to open the package.”
While the new way of shopping has its benefits, the increase of traffic and purchases can add to the shortage problem.
“It is the way of the future,” Edwards said. “However, as there’s more shipping, it’s using more infrastructure. The more people who purchase online, the more trucks have to be used on the roads, putting a further strain on infrastructure.”
Due to the increase of online shopping, local businesses have taken a hit to their profits.
“The situation is two-fold,” Edwards said. “Local businesses can suffer if they can’t adapt to online retail, but if they can grow their business to online spheres, they can increase their footprint.”
Based on the situation, there are possible ways that certain shortages can be combated.
“You have to determine what’s causing it first,” Edwards said. “Is it surely because of supply chain issues or because of corporate greed? If it’s because of supply chain issues, it can be relieved with increased infrastructure and more human capital.