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School Supply Industry Face Supply Chain Disruption Amid Start of the School Year Featured

School Supply Industry Face Supply Chain Disruption Amid Start of the School Year "Color pencils on bright background"

Add school supplies to the list of industries experiencing supply chain disruptions this year. But unlike other disruptions – stores won’t completely run out of items. Instead – experts predict that consumers may not be able to get exactly what they want when it comes to sneakers, backpacks, and other goods. "What we will likely see is more limited choice and lower stock levels towards the end of the back to school period," said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalRetail Data in an interview with USA Today.

Many families have taken it upon themselves to begin school shopping now – to make sure they get exactly what they want – or to beat the lines. Chad Weisbrodt, owner of the “Teach Me” Store in Raleigh, North Carolina explained, "the stuff that I ordered three-to-four weeks ago is selling out as soon as it hits.” Weisbrodt’s customer base includes teachers, parents, and educators.

Parents and educators will also have to factor in the cost of inflation as prices for everything from crayons to sneakers will go up. As Covid continues to be a nuisance to the supply chain industry – many factories shut down due to the pandemic. Although a majority have opened back up - things haven’t gone back to normal.  Katherine Cullen, a senior director for industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation told CBS News -  "They're having to pay for air freight versus shipping cargo in order to get things here on time. She adds, "And so those costs in terms of actually transporting goods, that has been a major concern for many of the retailors we’ve talked to.”

As Covid spreads through Vietnam, two of Nike’s suppliers have shut down. In an email to CNN Business Nike stated they are, “confident in [its] ability to navigate these near-term dynamics and we remain prudent in our planning." The footwear brand says they are committed to the safety and wellbeing of their employees and suppliers.

If you’re waiting on an awesome deal – you may not find it. “I think there's a lot of pressure for consumers to shop sooner than later," Nikki Baird, vice president of retail innovation at Aptos, a technology solutions provider mentions. "There's a lot of concern out there about inflation, and whether prices are going to go up, there's lots of disruption around the supply chain,” Baird explains.

With limited supplies comes limited choices. While some parents will scour the internet and brick and mortar stores for the exact school supplies they need others will settle for what they are able to find. Still others will creative and re-use supplies from last year and only purchase what’s necessary.  

School supplies are not the only supply chain disruption that is affecting the start of the school year. Many schools have also opted to minimize their school lunches due to limited workforce and the ability to get certain foods. In an article by the Wall Street Journal cafeterias all over the country are expected to run out of certain foods from canned fruit to lunch trays – with many wondering how they will feed their children come Fall.


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 Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.