Breaking News
More () »

Arkansas grocery stores feeling impact as omicron continues to spread

Staffing is not the only concern as local grocery stores are once again feeling the impact from supply chain issues, this time due to the omicron variant.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The omicron variant is continuing to spread rapidly among Arkansans and so are the problems it's creating.

"So we're also seeing about 50% employee absenteeism across the supply chain," said Dr. Doug Voss, Professor of Supply Chain Management at the University of Central Arkansas.

According to Voss, grocery stores are once again dealing with less staff along with fewer items on the shelves. 

"The employers don't have the employees there to service those customers, which frequently leads to stock outs on the store shelves," Voss said.

That issue trickles down to you, the customer.

Voss said that with more employees out, that means fewer of your favorite items will be available at the store.

"They [customers] have certain expectations and certain needs for products they have to have for themselves and their families," Voss said.

Steve Goode, with the Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchant Association, said items like meat and produce are in good shape.

But unfortunately dry foods, like ramen noodles are now hard to come by.

"Pasta is a very hard thing to get right now if you go in your local supermarket as a category, and then frozen foods," Goode said.

According to Goode, this is happening because food makers are facing the challenge of getting those items to local shops.

"It's staffing issues at the manufacturer level that are causing these. Consumers are going to see a lot of items that they're out of," Goode said.

The good news in this thought is that nothing lasts forever.

Health experts believe omicron cases could peak soon.

If that happens, Voss believes people can expect stores to return to pre-omicron operations.

"I think that the current shortage situation will be resolved within the next month or two," Voss said. 

He also believes this will have a short-term impact on Arkansas' economy as some prices will continue to stay higher than normal even after they return to the shelves. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out