Shoppers Find Half-Empty Aisles in St. Charles County

Missy Crystal

Problems with the supply chain have caused product shortages in St. Charles County.

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Toilet paper is selling fast at many stores in St. Charles CountyImage Credit: Missy Crystal

Supply shortages have hit St. Charles County, and some shoppers say it's like 2020 all over again. They're having a hard time finding paper products, such as toilet paper and paper towels. Other household staples, such as beans, rice, and macaroni and cheese are also selling quickly at some stores.

One retail manager from St. Charles County, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says they were warned about supply shortages months ago. "We've been doing our Christmas shopping already because our store manager said we will be out of toys by November," a local worker confided. Multiple retail employees told me the same thing, and one said management warned prices could increase by as much as 400% for the remaining stock.

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Low stock at the O'Fallon Target in October 2021Image Credit: Missy Crystal

After speaking with local managers, it seems the supply storage stems from a combination of issues. For starters, there's a labor shortage in St. Charles County, which is why many businesses have closed during the last few months.

A truck driver told me the problem also has to do with cargo issues in the east. Boats are full of goods, but they can't always find an open dock. When a dock becomes available, there isn't always someone available to unload supplies.

Other workers say supply issues were imminent due to the backlog. Numerous manufacturers fell behind due to quarantines and even deaths from COVID-19. Now they're trying to catch up, but it's hard when they're consistently short-staffed.

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Snacks are running low at this O'Fallon storeImage Credit: Missy Crystal

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There's a shortage of fruit snacks in O'FallonImage Credit: Missy Crystal

Some residents blame Biden for the supply issues and labor shortages. Others insist that there is no supply shortage, and one person said stores are notorious for overstocking their shelves. Multiple people told me they believe the supply shortage is real, but that it's the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. St. Charles County residents believe products are running low, so they rush out and buy in bulk.

Regardless of what's happening behind the scenes, shelves aren't as full as they once were in St. Charles County. Many of the aisles I visited initially appeared full, but then I realized boxes were pushed toward the front to create the illusion of being fully stocked. To clarify, this is a normal practice for many retailers and doesn't necessarily stem from the supply shortage.

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Shelves may appear fuller than they actually are when products are moved to the frontImage Credit: Missy Crystal

You may also notice some of your favorite brands have been replaced with substitutes. I've been shopping at the O'Fallon Target for more than 10 years, and I've never seen this brand of chicken until recently. Each package is priced between $16 and $20 in the photo below, which is not the normal price for chicken at this store.

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Chicken at the O'Fallon TargetImage Credit: Missy Crystal

Pet supplies, including litter and cat food, are also running low.

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Some cat litter brands are sold out completelyImage Credit: Missy Crystal

As a long-time resident of St. Charles, I've been following the supply shortage closely. The photos in this article were all taken on October 16, 2021 in O'Fallon, MO. I will continue monitoring the situation at local stores, including Walmart, Target, and Schnucks. Let me know if there are any stores you'd like me to check out in the area by commenting below.

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Full-time mom, student, and writer. I cover everything from parenting and personal finance to relationships and health.

O Fallon, MO
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