Scarce goods in September (Covid)
September 15, 2020 12:32 PM   Subscribe

In the hopes of getting my hands on stuff before it disappears - what is scarce right now where you are?

I'm in Western Canada. Last night I went to Ikea (we only have 1 in town) and it was so picked through. I couldn't get the lighting and houseplants I went for. I've also given up on wipes, last seen in February. Tell me what you've noticed is getting low in stock or unavailable near you. This has been discussed before when no one could get toilet paper, but I'm looking for what's unavailable right now, in September.
posted by kitcat to Shopping (48 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Weed. HRT. Lime juice (I swear to God.) I'm in Ireland.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:41 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

This is not as urgent as wipes, but I've looked for whole mustard seeds in New England and Ohio, and they've been out of stock everywhere.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:41 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Mason jars and lids are impossible to find where I am.
posted by ftm at 12:47 PM on September 15 [10 favorites]

Indoor exercise equipment, particularly weights/dumbbells.
posted by btfreek at 12:48 PM on September 15 [15 favorites]

Brand-name hand sanitizer (i.e., not that caustic generic crap).
posted by wenestvedt at 12:52 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

US: Bicycles. Wood products (like lumber, cabinets, etc.). Any kind of furnishing for a home office or home gym. Hand soap, lotions, and cleaning products are still limited in choice.

The wildfires on the US west coast could also potentially affect availability of cannabis products, wood products, and fresh/frozen produce.
posted by momus_window at 12:53 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

My mom's complained of trouble getting buttermilk so she's planning to stock up on that powdered buttermilk substitute for the inevitable winter bake-a-thon. (Edited to add that she's in the US Midwest)
posted by jabes at 12:55 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Home air filters, especially any with good reviews. Bicycles. As btfreek notes, weights/dumbbells.
posted by HotToddy at 1:01 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

PNW US: Yeast and various flours are kind of in and out of stock, where I am. Air filtration units are nowhere to be found.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:15 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]

Outdoor patio stuff - heaters, lights.
posted by RoadScholar at 1:24 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

We (Vancouver, BC) are all good on disinfecting stuff again - bleach, wipes, hand sanitizer are plentiful - but we seem not to have liquid soap refills anywhere and paper products start to have empty shelves again. Outdoor heaters are also a big item to buy here, which I predicted during the summer.

A tip for wipes, maybe: try a Loblaws-brand store. They have TONS of No Name wipes at all the stores around where I live.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:24 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Toilet bowl cleaner. In particular I haven't been able to find the disposal scrubbers for the Clorox wand. Target and my local supermarket haven't had them in stock for more than a month. Amazon has them backordered with no projected date for availability.
posted by kbar1 at 1:26 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Comfort foods, like Campbell's chicken noodle soup and my favorite Knorr Butter-flavored noodles, are not always available.

Sewing machines. "Can't get one for less than $1,000, and we're out of them right now," my local fabric store says. Also when I wanted to get mine serviced, I found out they were backed up 6 weeks--unheard of before.
posted by Melismata at 1:29 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

I can't think of anything that is scarce right now here in Denmark.
We've had some huge meat processing plants almost close because of the virus, but I didn't notice any empty fridges or freezers at the supermarkets.
Generally, we haven't had shortages for more than a few days. The wipes were maybe some weeks, masks maybe one week and then they were pricey for a bit longer. What we do have is ever-changing rules and regulations. They just set up new rules for social gatherings today, last time was less than a week ago. I don't mind at all, I want to be safe and it keeps the risk at front of mind.
posted by mumimor at 1:31 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Spray bottles, the kind you purchase empty. My workplace ordered them in late February and we are currently projected to receive them in December. The spray bottle I had at home broke in the spring after a few years of use, so my bleach solution currently lives in a Mason jar and gets splashed on surfaces.

My school district ordered iPads for kindergarten and first graders to do remote learning in May and got them last week, apparently they've been hard to get.

I've been keeping an eye out for a not-too-big chest freezer and they've all been out of stock for a while.

I've heard from colleagues that there's a serious shortage of lab animals right now. (You probably aren't looking to stock up on them, though.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:35 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Oh and freezers!! I've been trying to buy an upright freezer for months. I got on a list and the delivery date keeps getting pushed back over and over. If it ever shows up I anticipate having no trouble selling my despised chest freezer.

Also, I don't know if this is widespread, but the woman who supplies my beef and pork says her reservation list filled in record time.

Interesting about the sewing machines.
posted by HotToddy at 1:46 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Air purifiers. I belatedly realized I needed one this weekend, because *gestures at entire West Coast of North America* only to find that most of the affordable ones were out of stock or on backorder. I did manage to order one directly from the manufacturer for arrival this week, but maybe don't make my mistake, buy one before you really absolutely need it.
posted by yasaman at 1:50 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]

Spam and canned spinach. Mr Tipsy really really misses canned spinach and full sodium spam. Weird but its a comfort food situation for him.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 2:10 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Velcro, fabric, sewing-machine needles, Patak's Lime Relish, bicycle parts, refurbished iPads.

These are all things I've tried to buy in the past few weeks and had a tougher time than usual finding in stock, or haven't been able to find at all. I'm in the US.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:10 PM on September 15

Home office stuff, for adults and youth. Desks, computer accessories, etc..
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:11 PM on September 15

I just remembered - Costco was out of Kirkland paper towels for the first time I've ever seen. I hope that's not a thing.
posted by kitcat at 2:15 PM on September 15

Drinks in aluminum cans, especially my favorite flavor of store-brand seltzer. (Northeast US).
posted by mskyle at 2:15 PM on September 15

Lumber is hard to come by, and prices have tripled since March. I have not been able to find ammonia at the local grocery, pharmacy, or hardware stores.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:32 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Ammunition for firearms in mainstream calibers (9mm, .45 ACP, .223/5.56) More obscure calibers that were never common in stores are still available online (7.62 Nagant revolver).
posted by glonous keming at 2:35 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Kitcat, I'm in much the same part of the world as you (just down the QEII). Soda Stream flavours are very limited in places where they they used to be plentiful. If I see a favourite, I buy it immediately. I've had no trouble with Kirkland paper towels.
posted by angiep at 2:39 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Costco *had* been out of paper towels and poop tickets for months, but that has abated somewhat. I have a friend at the gym who works for Costco and when I see him he gives me the heads up about the timing of trucks.
I had to buy a surprise refrigerator. In August. It was delivered September 9th. That refrigerator is no longer available because it has been sold out, and it’s a Whirlpool manufactured in the US. This is in a decent MSA in North Carolina. When I called to have a word with Costco Customer Service re: my delivery issues (so Lowe’s and Home Depot were sold out, especially of stuff in my price range, and I am close to 5+ Lowe’s and 2+ Home Depot stores) and the rep in Seattle told me I was lucky to even be getting a fridge.

Also, not necessarily something you’d stock up on, but I bought a new surfboard last month and the shaper told me that materials for fabricating new boards (usually out of China) are impossible to get at the moment.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 2:39 PM on September 15

Sodastream CO2 canisters, it took me over a month of trying the Target and Fred Meyer near me, ended up driving 15 miles to a Walmart and exchanging my 3 used ones for 3 of the last 4 new ones they had. (someone told me that there's a CO2 shortage generally, which might account for mkyle's report of canned seltzer shortages)

A specific muffin tin that I would have expected to be in at least 2 or 3 different stores was sold out. I'm not sure if this is bakeware generally; I was looking for something particular.

On the Ikea website, at least, the two stores nearest me have been out of any lower-end desks for months. (It's enough of a drive that I look first.) And when I went to that Walmart for CO2, they were also out of desks.

I too have seen shortages/outages of mason jars & supplies.
posted by epersonae at 3:03 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

> the rep in Seattle told me I was lucky to even be getting a fridge.

Oh, right: my washing machine broke, and the repair guy said it would take him weeks to get the part because of supply-chain issues, and that then it would end up being a $500 repair. I bought a new washing machine, instead. (The websites all said it would take several weeks for delivery of a new washing machine, but a local chain had one installed at my house in a few days.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:07 PM on September 15

N95 masks.
posted by socialjusticeworrier at 3:17 PM on September 15

Lumber and other building materials, according to the guy who can't re-side our house because he is home with his distance-learning kids. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 3:41 PM on September 15

Apple MacBook Pros (at the low end) are still four weeks out.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:41 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

All in San Francisco:

A variant on what tchemgrrl said: Monkeys

Sewing machines.

SodaStream exchange cartridges, SodaStream flavors. Our local little hardware store has new cartridges, but not for swapping.

Replacement filters for any air purifier machine. Just a big empty row of shelves at the hardware stores.

Air purifier machines are made of unobtanium, as to be expected in an end-of-days fiery apocalyse.
posted by blob at 3:48 PM on September 15

Not out of stock yet, but I just stocked up in anticipation: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and baking goods to make fall pies.
posted by floweredfish at 5:48 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

I don’t know why you’d want to get your hands on them, but as a point of interest, filters for commercial HVAC systems are in short supply as well.
posted by HotToddy at 6:45 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

I live on Long Island, and haven't seen Lysol spray for months. The local Target clerk tells me each shipment sells out in under an hour, that's with a four can per customer limit.
posted by Marky at 8:15 PM on September 15

If you have a carbonated beverage habit, you'll want to start overstocking. Shortages in both aluminum and CO2 mean that less-popular sodas are harder to find (woe betide anyone who prefers a diet caffeine free soda or a weird flavor of Fanta!), and even the more popular ones (like Diet Dr Pepper, which the commercials always said sells better than regular Dr Pepper) are super challenging to find in aluminum cans. 4/5 times the delivery service has to replace my order for Diet Dr P cans with bottles or refund it entirely.

This also applies to CO2 canisters for SodaStream and similar.

If the western US fires haven't made their way to you yet, or it hasn't gotten bad yet, you may still be able to find air purifiers, replacement filters, and respirator masks (the kind that don't protect against COVID-19 and so started being easier to find a couple months ago). I'd recommend going and acquiring whichever of those you're in need of ASAP, and backups of the consumables, seriously. Fire season is just beginning, and the news stories tend to inspire even folks not currently affected to go get supplies.

Disinfecting wipes stock hasn't fully replenished yet and the CEO of Clorox says they won't have enough until 2021, so if you use these, grab them whenever you can.

You might also want to think of things that aren't yet actually scarce but getting more expensive in anticipation. A recent past example is bidet toilet attachments. The one I bought two months ago for $49 sold for $20 pre-pandemic TP shortage.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:37 PM on September 15

Haven't seen this one on the list (sorry if I missed it): wet cat food. I liked to feed my cat those Whiskas packets; now they have disappeared. The rest of the shelves for wet cat food look kind of bare as well.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 11:46 PM on September 15

Webcams are out of stock everywhere. There are knock-off versions available on Amazon (buyer beware!), but anything from a reputable manufacturer is on back-order until late fall, at the earliest.
posted by gox3r at 12:29 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

Ice cream and flour. The flour started to come back in stock at places recently. I'm not sure the ice cream was technically out of stock before, but it's been hard to find services or locations that will deliver it while it's been warm or hot out.
posted by limeonaire at 3:53 AM on September 16

Oh, also, laundry options were almost impossible to get early on in the pandemic in the spring. Everyone realized they might need to do laundry at home in apartments to try to avoid the laundromat, so things like the Lavario washing bucket or small clothes dryers were back-ordered. I was only over the summer able to get a Lavario, a drying rack, and a small dryer (a combo I highly recommend!)
posted by limeonaire at 3:58 AM on September 16

If you don't have a thermometer, they were out of stock in local stores and on Amazon for months, and now you can't get any 'brand' ones (I wanted a Vicks because who knows about random brands, but mine straight up broke so guess I'm going to find out).

I also noticed that the Walmart by me has almost no furniture, although this could be a function of everyone trying to get desks/etc for school.
posted by possibilityleft at 6:02 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

posted by The corpse in the library at 6:26 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]

Rubbing alcohol (isopropanol, aka isopropyl alcohol) hasn't been on the shelves in weeks here in Southern California.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 12:27 PM on September 16

We need our front door replaced (bent storm door, water gets in, bad things happen) and are having a hell of a time finding a contractor to take on our project. Everyone's doing home improvement stuff now and there aren't enough people to replace our effing front door.

So I'll say that there is a shortage of construction workers and probably soon there will also be a corresponding shortage of DIY books and band-aids.
posted by Gray Duck at 3:41 PM on September 16 [1 favorite]

woe betide anyone who prefers a diet caffeine free soda or a weird flavor of Fanta!

Well, shoot, I can confirm this is the case here in Vancouver - I can't find my vice, Diet Caffeine Free Coke.
posted by urbanlenny at 6:25 PM on September 16

Document Cameras (for teaching from home).

Also came to say chest freezers. The one I ordered has been back-ordered to at least December.

Red tea (rooibos) has not been on the shelves in ages. Still available online, but I haven't seen it in any stores for months.

A friend reports that non-permanent backyard pools (wading pools?) are hard to find now. Not sure if that's because it's fall or because everyone bought them to pass the time while stuck at home.
posted by rakaidan at 8:35 PM on September 16

rakaidan, Trader Joe's has their pumpkin rooibos on shelves right now, if that helps.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:00 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]

I have been looking for a decent desk chair to WFH in all day, and they're either out of stock or $500.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:04 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]

« Older digitizing a book   |   How to extract contextual information from speech? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments