SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — President Biden signed the Ocean Shipping Reform into law last week, a bill South Dakota Senator John Thune and Representative Dusty Johnson both sponsored to help increase agricultural exports and ease some of the supply chain issues the nation has experienced since the pandemic hit.
But Monday the National Retail Federation said supply chain challenges are still making significant impacts on businesses.
“Supply chain is always an issue, especially in the world we live in post covid,” Lauriebelles Chief Operating Officer Roger Jepsen said.
South Dakota retailers are experiencing the same challenges as companies all over the country.
“Demand is really high,” Joel Wornson with Runners Block said. “The same product we’re looking for, stores all over the country are looking for the same stuff.”
From running shoes to women’s clothing, retail companies continue to compete for a limited selection of products.
“It’s been hard to get stuff, a big challenge on the buying side of things,” Jepsen said.
“It’s pretty picked over,” Wornson said.
A challenge customers can still see on many store shelves.
“We’ve all been there, you go to stores and think it’s pretty bare in here,” Jepsen said.
Jepsen says Lauriebelles continues to work hard to bring in merchandise and grow their brand, despite the challenges.
“We’ve added a third store location in these times and I think that says a lot,” Jepsen said.
Lauriebelles new Empire Mall store is the company’s third retail location. But even as their company continues to grow, they know trying to build a business amid the ongoing supply chain issues is an incredible challenge for many companies.
“It’s not an easy process,” Jepsen said.
“Places where you used to see shelves full, racks full, they’re doing things to reposition things from a merchandising standpoint,” Wornson said.
Wornson says Runners Block has been able to get in new product, but they may not have every color or variety a customer is looking for, especially in some of the highest demand brands. Availability that’s been a challenge since the pandemic hit in 2020.
“Two and a half years later and we’re still feeling some of those aftereffects. They keep telling us yes it’s going to catch up, what that time frame looks like we don’t know,” Wornson said.
While there are still significant challenges, the National Retail Federation says congestion at the ports is improving. It means many South Dakota retailers are starting to receive more reliable deliveries.
“Lately it’s been getting better. We just got some new product in in the past couple of weeks,” Wornson said.
“In the last 30 days or so our air freight costs have come down by about 25 percent,” Jepsen said.
Jepsen says the improvements in shipping are helping bring in more ready-made goods, but raw materials for manufactured goods like Lauriebelles Lilly & Lottie line are still seeing significant delays.
“Raw materials are the big thing,” Jepsen said. “The manufacturing side is where you’re still going to see the biggest impact.”
Many Economists and the Federal Reserve say these continued supply chain challenges are a major contributing factor to the rising inflation.