Whitehorse Daily Star

Perfect storm of factors impacting grocery shelves

Local grocery store operators are picking their words carefully in addressing public concerns about what they say are increasingly empty shelves.

By Tim Giilck on January 21, 2022

Local grocery store operators are picking their words carefully in addressing public concerns about what they say are increasingly empty shelves.

The scarcity of some grocery-related supplies has been the talk of the town in recent weeks – even months.

Social media are full of discussion as well about store shelves being empty, with everything from milk to eggs to cat litter sold out. Many people are puzzled and concerned about what is happening.

Some blame the COVID-19 outbreak for inspiring another round of hoarding. Others blame the weather, particularly in hard-hit British Columbia, for the supply woes.

Some are saying the federal government’s Jan. 15 introduction of a vaccine mandate for truckers who cross the border are making things worse. Others suggest drivers are scarce during the Omicron outbreak of the virus.

The Star decided to talk to the people who should know – the managers and owners of Whitehorse grocery stores.

Only Sam Jurovich, the owner of the Bigway store in the Granger Mall, was prepared to be talkative on the issue.

So far, he said, Bigway hasn’t had much of a challenge with the supply chain, nor with staff shortages due to COVID-19.

“At this point, it’s not critical, but the shortages are expanding,” Jurovich said.

He said he’s expecting the challenges could worsen, but since Bigway is not a big-box chain store like his competition downtown, he has more options open to him and a “quicker reaction time”.

Jurovich said he employs about 25 people on his staff. He hasn’t faced much in the way of difficulties there, particularly among his permanent, long-term staff.

“They’ve been great,” he said. “We have had some fluctuations with our younger staff, but nothing serious.”

Many of his permanent staff have been with him for more than 20 years, he said, and are intensely loyal.

Jurovich said he keeps his ear tuned to the grocery grapevine in the city. He shared some of his thoughts as to what some of the other stores are experiencing.

He said as far as he can tell, the Real Canadian Superstore has been hit particularly hard. He said, though, he doesn’t think it’s supply issues that are the problem.

Jurovich said what he is hearing is that staffing issues are part of the problem. Deliveries are coming through on a close-to-regular basis, he suggested, but there aren’t enough staff to re-stock the shelves in a timely manner.

The manager of the Real Canadian Superstore refused to talk to the Star about the issue. He directed a reporter to the Loblaws head office instead.

The manager of the Save-on Store did not return a call from the Star.

Mark Wykes, the owner of Wykes Independent, kept his comments very general and was reluctant to be quoted at length.

Wykes said the shortages – which have affected the Independent Grocer somewhat, are due to a convergence of factors.

The trucking industry is suffering staff shortages, he suggested, which, when combined with some of the severe weather conditions over the last few months, have complicated deliveries.

On Thursday morning, he had a reminder of how impactful the weather could be. Wykes said a delivery truck was on its side a few hours out of Whitehorse.

“That’s certainly going to delay things,” he pointed out.

He said that could get worse due to the federal government’s vaccine mandate that only fully-vaccinated drivers can cross the border.

However, he also suggested the impact might not be so great.

“Why wouldn’t they just send their vaccinated drivers across?” he asked.

Wykes suggested manufacturing shortages are more of a problem than most people think as well.

The other factor is less controllable, Wykes suggested.

He’s suspicious that some people are hoarding supplies locally, compounding the shortages.

The COVID-19 outbreak is part of that, he said, but it’s also basic customer psychology that if shoppers have an idea there’s a supply shortage, they start to stock up.

Wykes said he’s asking his customers to take only what they need and leave some for other people for the moment.

Comments (23)

Up 0 Down 0

George on Jan 27, 2022 at 3:40 pm

So tired of the politicians saying the vax rate equals vax and mandate support. Reality is many people support vax, many people do not support mandates and many ( many ) people were coerced and forced into vax.

Up 16 Down 3

Chuck Farley on Jan 25, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Wondering ; I'm currently down south have been for a month; In my visits to super stores, save on foods, Costco, shelves are stocked (not to mention prices/sales), I would guess it's a driver shortage impacting the north.

Up 14 Down 9

AdmiralA$$ on Jan 25, 2022 at 9:24 am

Sad day in He!! when the A$$ is correct. Only thing left to say here is, the road to he!! is always paved with the best intensions.

1917 - Russian Revolution.
1921 - Communist party ran out of food because of bad policy.
1922 - 5 million starved to death.
Took 5 years for the government to see its own errors and it was far to late by then.

Up 13 Down 9

bonanzajoe on Jan 24, 2022 at 8:24 pm

SH. Well, I guess you just won the prize for stupidity.

Up 16 Down 36

SH on Jan 24, 2022 at 1:59 pm

@Wilf Carter

A liberal insider huh? Sure it's not just the voices in your head, try another layer of tin foil on that hat.
Also, the Carbon tax is SUPPOSED to make things more expensive, that's the WHOLE point. You, as a consumer, should have the mental fortitude to seek out cheaper, greener alternatives.

Up 29 Down 15

Jeff Bikaboom on Jan 24, 2022 at 11:19 am

There is a shortage of workers everywhere because people were let go because of mandates and it turns out they weren't easy to replace. This, and the the fact that the vaccinated workers are getting covid, or they have to stay at home because they are suspected of having covid.

This feels to me like army training when the whole unit is punished for the failing of one soldier, so the soldiers beat that one soldier with socks filled with bars of soap. The supply chain issues are clearly manufactured and preventable, so I find it suspicious the federal government is trying so hard to create them. Will the empty shelves be blamed on those that didn't do the right thing? I can see CBC pushing this narrative, but many other "news" outlets have taken a U turn in the last week. Like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Will Canada go the way of Ontario and open up, or go the way of Quebec and double down on the madness?

Why haven't the roads been plowed? Why does mail take a month to get here? Likely the same reason the shelves are not full. How long until the gas pumps are empty?

I wonder if the hundreds of trucks that were protesting on the weekend want to work and fill the shelves or if they want to lockdown and let the shelves go bare. I think they are called 'freedums' by many.

It turns outs that when you exile a portion of society for not submitting to the control of their inalienable human rights it is your problem. Unless of course you live off grid on a self sustaining farm, then you will get by just fine. For those that don't, it is time for a reality check.

Up 27 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Jan 24, 2022 at 10:30 am

Our society is crumbling due to a number of factors, beginning with the Truth. The Truth has become something to be feared in case somebody somewhere may be offended by it. We are seemingly now being governed by the lowest common denominator approach.
In our government's zeal to save the planet from global warming, other impacts to our quality of life are being thrust on us with little thought to their consequences being experienced by those impacted by them.
Social media has made it possible for many more opinons to be shared about just about anything, increasing the Tower of Babel effect where listening is losing ground to chattering. How we decide what opinion to listen to is causing numerous other challenges as manipulation of media is being used to shift the public attitude to what the politicians want. We are being told what and how to think by those who do it poorly.
The public feels helpless as the elected types ignore our pleas and march on with their agenda of decay and regression. For all the bragging from our political leaders about being Progressive, we appear to be going backwards more than forwards. The elite get what they want and need, so they have little empathy for all others.
Who is John Galt?

Up 78 Down 21

Still fed up ! on Jan 23, 2022 at 2:48 pm

Bottom line answer to all these headlines and comments.....get rid of Trudeau, and get rid of this local Yukon government as soon as possible. If this happens....things will get better !

Up 37 Down 24

Wilf Carter on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:09 am

I was just told by an inside liberal that Trudeau wants to cut off western Canada suppliers to Ontario, Quebec and east coast. Western Canada is big supplier of meats and many other products and this is just another way to create conflict between west and east. West supplies all the grain to make bread and many other food items for Canadians.

Up 36 Down 19

Wilf Carter on Jan 23, 2022 at 10:49 am

Let's face it. Trudeau's actions since elected has created problems and drove up the cost of living for all Canadian's. Look at carbon tax, driving up fuel cost last week up 5 cents and by summer our fuel will go up another 20 cents a liter. I talked to 4 Canadian trucking companies and they are fed up with the cost going onto their backs and they have to absorb the cost increases.
I have friends in Mexico and the stores have lots of food from US, Canada and China. Our Canadian food can go to US and Mexico but can't come across Canada!!!

Up 48 Down 8

Wondering on Jan 22, 2022 at 7:50 pm

Was in Superstore today. It sure looked like they were thinning their inventory as opposed to supply chain issues. I am starting to wonder if this store isn’t on the list of those across the country that will be temporarily closing. But like anyone will ever tell you; you’ll just show up one day and poof, a closed sign on the door.

Up 32 Down 8

Son Ja on Jan 22, 2022 at 5:38 pm

Didn't think Mark would not know his truckers. Maybe they can't be sent anywhere because they might just have a family that they might want to see once a week. They might really have another home beside their sleeper. We are lucky that many are still driving do so!

Up 45 Down 30

The happiness trap has been sprung on Jan 22, 2022 at 1:13 pm

The war has been here for sometime now. Those of us who have been classically educated and yet still rejecting of the foundational structures of the precipitating dominant socio-economic, and political realities have been engaged in periodic skirmishes with the authorities wherein many, many, have lost their lives.

This counter-defensive is now imperilled by generations of systems apologists who are normalizing subjugation for individualistic freedoms such as the right to make funny anamorphic self portraits to send on Snapchat with their friends… To be socially mediated by social media which in turn uses the derivative data to further capture the attention of their impulses… Its like being stalked by an invisible lion in a wide open barren plain and being happy about it… Knowing that every step you take brings you closer to an end.

When Trudeau said you will own nothing and be happy about it he meant your mind too… FFS! That is how the basic dictatorships that he admires get the power… You will own nothing and you will be forced to be happy… Or else!

Up 50 Down 23

Living the behaviourists dream… on Jan 22, 2022 at 9:44 am

This supposed storm is the direct result of Liberal machinations. A natural consequence of the global reset wherein Trudeau and other similarly un-minded leaders assert that, “you will own nothing and be happy” - Or else!

A tax for this and a tax for that they’re coming for stuff wherever it’s at. Inflation-nation what’s your station? In the brave new world will you have to choose between clean underwear or your food and water rations?

But here we collectively stand before the precipice, unable to see what is below, do we step into the void comforting ourselves with the unknowing delusion that we will land in the safety net? Do you swallow the blue pill or the red pill?

As Orwell wrote in his book, 1984; “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

This is the endgame of Liberal Democracies… The Faustian bargain… To disaggregate you through identitarian politics and the employment of hierarchical categories. You are this, and I am that, now plug in the variables to find your worth, the moral calculus of your soul’s worth in relation to your skin colour.

O’Brien speaks to Winston:
Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

You want some real Truth and Reconciliation look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the Mandelian question: What have you brought to the world? To do this you need to look past your own self interests and this is very hard to do for everyone. Especially in the age of self-importance reinforced daily through the multitude of chirps, beeps, pings, rings, and all the other alerts, that swamp our dopamine systems… Creating a neurotoxic swirl for the prefrontal cortex… That is why our children look like rats at the feeder bar.

How very Skinnerian of you… Nom, nom, nom, nom… Deadening the capacity for consciousness… Killing consciousness in pursuit of the great impulses… I am special, I am unique, I am a sheep… I have been fleeced.

Up 47 Down 19

Max Mack on Jan 22, 2022 at 3:19 am

How many trucking firms have followed the Feds prodding and have put their own vaccine mandates in place? This - combined with the cross-border mandate on both sides of the border - is contributing massively to supply chain disruptions and contributing to an escalating supply and inflationary crisis.

But, it's all good. People like Silver and Trudeau have your best interests in mind. /sarc off

Up 38 Down 13

DL on Jan 22, 2022 at 1:26 am

Here's a good analysis of food supply being used as a control weapon:

It's already happening.

Up 60 Down 23

DL on Jan 22, 2022 at 1:08 am

Vax mandates, for truckers or anyone else, make absolutely NO sense. The data shows that the fully vaxed for covid still catch and transmit the covid virus. And that this latest 'covid wave' isn't any worse than the common cold. Clearly, the vax mandates are NOT about stopping 'the spread', nor about public safety. On the contrary.

This government has displayed an obsessive focus on segregating and punishing the unvaxed, and at the same time, a curious lack of concern about basic necessities like ensuring supplies of firewood and food.

There's no question that this supply shortage crisis is the result of government imposed lockdowns and vax mandates. Let's put the blame squarely where it belongs. Stop the mandates now, and things will go back to normal.

Up 60 Down 16

Salt on Jan 21, 2022 at 8:45 pm

Ya, must be those irrational customers…this can’t have anything to do with the morons running our country into the ground. Funny how most of the owners refused to comment, wonder why? Not like this is a political problem that they are afraid to engage on.

Up 43 Down 12

This is war on Jan 21, 2022 at 7:11 pm

If there’s no food coming through it doesn’t much matter how many staff you have or don’t have. Face facts, sleepy heads.

Up 56 Down 12

melba on Jan 21, 2022 at 7:07 pm

Good article. At least someone tried to ge to the bottom of it. Of course the corporate owned stores Spend On and 'Super' Store, lol, refused to talk. They might get in trouble.

Up 59 Down 21

Rick S on Jan 21, 2022 at 6:09 pm

Combination of a lot of things, but almost everything leads back to the US and Canadian governments' terrible, fear-driven Covid response.

Up 55 Down 17

Naturelover on Jan 21, 2022 at 5:40 pm

Sounds like what happens in a failed socialist state .
The government salaries and pensions could be next.

Up 68 Down 26

bonanzajoe on Jan 21, 2022 at 4:37 pm

As Pierre Poilievre said, "When the shelves are full, thank the truckers. When the shelves are empty, blame Justin Trudeau". Well, he has that right. The drama queen wants to be a dictator like his father. Let's see what he has to say, when hundreds of truckers descend on Ottawa with their noisy carbon emission rigs. I want to see his face. But, the mainstream media won't show that. You will have to see it in the Rebel, True North Media and Counter Signal. I'll be watching.

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