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Not Again: Shoppers Looking For Milk, Bread And Other Grocery Staples Finding Empty Store Shelves

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — School closures and remote learning have returned, along with long lines for COVID testing, so it was just a matter of time before another specter of the early pandemic made a comeback – empty store shelves.

Across the country, shoppers are taking to social media to report they are having trouble finding milk, bread, meat and other grocery staples. There have been no reports, however, of toilet paper shortages.

Unlike the panic buying of 2020, experts say there are a number of factors causing store shelves to sit empty. The highly-transmissible Omicron variant has fueled a surge of positive COVID test results, while grocery stores say the shortage in workers is causing transportation and logistics issues, which is delaying deliveries.

However, social media posts show that the sight of bare store shelves may be concentrated in certain areas.

And since the pandemic began, American grocery stores have had to grapple with sporadically empty shelves. Shortages have struck at different times for different products, including macaroni, rice, beans, corn dogs, ham, frozen waffles, and non-dairy coffee creamer.

The shortages have unfortunately led to increased prices, and the U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday that inflation soared 7% last year, the highest its been since 1982.

In a statement released Wednesday, President Joe Biden said today's Consumer Price Index report showed a reduction in headline inflation over the past month, but concedes that price increases are still too high and squeezing family budgets.

"Inflation is a global challenge, appearing in virtually every developed nation as it emerges from the pandemic economic slump," the statement said.

Experts say they expect shelves may remain sparse for at least a month, until the Omicron variant subsides.

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