AKRON, Ohio — There are not many commonalities among computer chips, chicken wings and T-shirts, but one is that they are all becoming increasingly hard to find.
Similar to local car dealerships and restaurants, T-shirt shops are having difficulty with supply shortages.A supply chain at capacity
"It's been a nightmare," said Shawn Ritchie, owner of Ritchie's Sporting Goods in Tallmadge, Ohio.
Ritchie orders his products from many of the nation's wholesale apparel companies, such as SanMar and One Stop, along with major brands like Gildan, JerZees, Adidas and Nike. All have had issues filling orders within the last six months, he said.
Action Sports Apparel in Norton, Ohio has been impacted by a lack of T-shirts and hats, according to Justin Jivan, one of the shop's employees.
The primary reason for these shortages and delays is the supply chain, which is currently at capacity, according to Jonathan Gold, vice president of the National Retail Federation's supply chain and customs policy, and Nate Herman, senior vice president of policy for the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
"We're seeing issues with businesses, both big and small, that are having difficulty getting products to the market," Gold said. "It starts overseas with the foreign factories that were obviously impacted because of the COVID and have had issues getting staffed back up to be able to meet the consumer demand that we've seen."
There are problems plaguing nearly every step of the supply chain, including the portions that take place in the U.S. These issues include getting in and out of ports in a timely manner and lack of equipment. For example, chassis, which are specially designed trailers used to transfer containers from trucks between ports, terminals and warehouses, are in short supply.
"What we're calling it is a shipping crisis," Herman said. "That shipping crisis is threatening to leave store shelves empty, which is particularly concerning for our industry as we get closer to back to school and move into the holiday season."Shifting delivery dates
If what Ritchie needs is available, it often takes weeks or months to arrive. He recently received the last 13 jerseys for a local softball team — just in time for their last game of the season. Large orders for leagues now dribble in over four or five weeks rather than arriving all at once, making it increasingly difficult to keep track of which orders have been filled.