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COVID, Supply Chain & Weather Issues Causing Some Empty Shelves At Grocery Stores In Tri-State Area

RAMSEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- If you've gone grocery shopping lately and noticed some empty shelves, you are not alone.

Stores large and small are having some trouble keeping shelves stocked.

To be clear, this is not like the bad old days we all remember from early in the pandemic. Most store shelves CBS2's Nick Caloway found were well-stocked, but customers have noticed some empty shelves, too.

"Some of the water was missing last time. Some of the cereals were missing," one customer said.

"The Perdue chicken, some of the pasta," Mahwah resident John Dolan said.

"Salsa, I couldn't get," one woman said.

Don't panic -- there's plenty of toilet paper -- but at one ShopRite in Ramsey, CBS2 noticed certain baby items and crackers were long sold out.

Signs point to the broken supply chain causing milk shortages, and weather in the southeast is to blame for out-of-stock chicken.

"It's starting to look bare again, but they're trying their best," Ho-Ho-Kus resident Ellen Francess said.

Experts say there are a few main reasons you may be seeing empty shelves at your local store.

The recent Omicron surge means employees are out sick, so there are fewer people to drive the trucks and stock the shelves.

The latest wave of infections also means people aren't eating out as much, so they're buying more food to cook at home.

Additionally, winter weather has delayed deliveries.

The National Grocers Association says there's plenty of food in the supply chain but anticipates that consumers will experience sporadic disruptions due to the supply and labor challenges.

At a Stew Leonard's in Yonkers, New York, shelves are mostly full, but like everywhere else, some employees are out sick.

Store vice president Christian Cruz says that just means doing some things differently.

"We have about five or six, seven different flavors of the pizza, so if we don't have to make pineapple pizza because we have a little bit of a shortage, then we don't make the pineapple pizza," he said.

Some shoppers in Bergen County told CBS2 that recently they've had to go to multiple stores to get all the items they need and, thanks to higher prices, they're also paying more.

The National Grocers Association is requesting that supermarket workers get prioritization of testing supplies from both federal and state governments to help avoid workforce disruptions.

CBS2's Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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