Record Temperatures, Long Lines And Increasing Scarcity Will Greatly Test The Patience Of Americans This Summer

This is going to be a long, hot summer that none of us is likely to forget any time soon.  Coming into this year, we knew that societal tensions would be running high because 2020 is an election year.  Many are convinced that this is the most important election in modern American history, and I expect for there to be some extremely shocking surprises as we draw closer to November. 

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to surge to new heights, and the restrictions that authorities have instituted to fight this pandemic have created a huge backlash.  So many people have such extreme emotions about COVID-19, and unfortunately it appears that this crisis is not going away any time soon.  Of course the civil unrest that erupted in the aftermath of the tragic death of George Floyd took societal tensions to an entirely new level that we have never seen before.  There was rioting, looting and violence all over the nation, and more chaos could literally break out at any moment.

So to say that our national mood is “fragile” right now would be a major understatement.  I have never seen so much anger and frustration in this country in my entire lifetime, tens of millions of Americans have already lost their jobs, and a lot of people are not even able to pay their most basic bills at this point.  In fact, one recent survey found that nearly a third of all Americans have not even made “their full housing payments for July”

As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, almost one-third of U.S. households, 32%, have not made their full housing payments for July yet, according to a survey by Apartment List, an online rental platform.

And now, on top of everything else, here comes the heat.

On Sunday, high temperatures were above 100 degrees all over the western half of the country

Heat alerts are in effect from California to Alabama as high temperatures will be 10-15 degrees above average on Sunday.

Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson will all see high temperatures of at least 110 degrees, and all three are likely to tie or break their daily record high temperatures. In Texas, cities including Dallas, San Antonio, and Lubbock will all exceed 100 degrees.

Unfortunately, Sunday is just the beginning.  A “heat dome” has formed over the middle of the country, and that is likely to mean high temperatures of 90 degrees or greater for approximately 80 percent of the nation “for the next few weeks”

A PERFECT STORM of crises is forming across the United States. Above our heads, a “heat dome” of high pressure could blast 80 percent of the continental US with temperatures over 90 degrees for the next few weeks. This coming in a summer when the Covid-19 lockdown has trapped people indoors, many without air-conditioning—and mass unemployment may mean that residents with AC units can’t afford to run them.

Needless to say, this is not coming at a good time.  Crime rates are absolutely soaring and the streets of many of our major cities already resemble war zones.

And during these very hot summer months, many Americans will have to wait in exceedingly long lines for one reason or another.  I have written numerous articles about the massive lines that we have seen at food banks around the country, and lines at COVID-19 testing sites have gotten extremely long as well

Food banks in Vermont and Arizona have miles-long queues of cars. At testing sites in Florida, motorists show up with full gas tanks to keep air conditioning pumping all day. Travel to Europe is off, with America waiting behind other nations to re-enter someday. Even the electronic realm is tied up: Amid 11% unemployment, people applying for benefits report frozen computer screens and abrupt phone disconnections. Sometimes, the reward waiting at the end is simply a chance to try again tomorrow.

I couldn’t imagine waiting “all day” to get tested for COVID-19, but apparently there are a lot of people that are so desperate to get tested that they are willing to do this.

On top of everything else, a wide variety of products are becoming increasingly scarce at our local grocery stores.

This isn’t a major national crisis yet, but you may have noticed that your local grocery store is having a much more difficult time keeping certain products in stock than usual.  This is happening because COVID-19 and the accompanying economic slowdown have created serious problems for many key supply chains.

Tony Koretz is the host of “A Minute To Midnite”, and he is also a really good guy that I know personally.  Just a few days ago he received an email from “a supply chain analyst for a large grocery chain”, and what this supply chain analyst had to share was extremely chilling.  The following is a short excerpt from that email

— the meeting of store demand — which is a proxy for actual consumer demand — from company-owned central warehouses has steadily declined over the last 4 months; from a 98% pre-COVID fulfillment rate to 58% as of yesterday.  Key point:  STEADY decline; yes some blips upward from time to time, but overall steady decline to be sure

— what this impacts is the presentation on the shelves; for example:  do we have some or no toilet paper, tomato paste, rice and noodles, etc., etc.; you will also see new and unknown brands coming in to substitute for a product, but that is only going to be a temporary stop-gap as these are from 2nd and 3rd tier vendors who may not carry as much clout in getting their own raw-material supply chains filled…these too will dry up and go away over the next 3-6 months (not to mention the effect of absenteeism in their own ranks, leading to an inability to produce said 2nd/3rd tier products)…

— there is also a trend to see less variations on products; for example, we only have 3 variations on tomato paste to put on shelves as-opposed to the 15 we had pre-COVID

— to the folks in the industry, this is known as the presentation and the service level at the shelf in the store; service levels on some harder-hit commodities are near 10% at-best, averaging in the 70% level on an aggregate across all stores/commodities when you carve-out bath tissue, paper towels, baby wipes, disinfectant wipes;  comparatively during pre-COVID service levels were in the very high 90’s for all products (sans SEASONAL)…

— Additional contributing factors:  in addition to waning vendor fulfilment, we are also seeing more-and-more absenteeism in our warehouses due to COVID cases, fear, exhaustion.

You can read the rest of the email right here.  Of course none of this information should surprise us, because it is obvious that grocery stores are having a very difficult time keeping their shelves stocked.  But getting this sort of inside information does help us to understand exactly why it is happening.

If you are anticipating that the end of this year and the beginning of next year will be chaotic, the next couple of months will be your best chance to get stocked up.

My suggestion would be to take advantage of this window of opportunity while we have it.

America has entered a time of great upheaval, and much of the country is simply not going to be able to handle the major national nightmares that are ahead of us.