Another paper shortage? What the latest disruptions in supply mean for you

·2 min read

The early months of the pandemic led to shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, meat and more. And a year and a half later, at least one supply chain in the U.S. is still experiencing disruptions.

The nation's paper supply is running thin, impacting envelopes, books, paper bags and beyond, NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders reported on TODAY Tuesday. One bride-to-be planning a wedding for November, Gabriella Santaniello, told TODAY that her invitations were delayed for weeks because her vendor didn't have enough paper to print the envelopes.

"I panicked. I didn’t expect for them to come back with that answer," she recalled.

Another impacted industry? Booksellers. Barnes & Noble saw a surge in sales at the height of the pandemic but could deal with supply chain issues during the holiday season.

"The problem comes as we get closer into the holiday and really close to Christmas when some books start selling a bit more than we expect," Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt told TODAY. "Then there’s a problem because then you can’t reprint and or rather the capacity for reprint is limited."

Still, the company discourages panic buying and instead encourages holiday shoppers simply not to wait to the last minute.

Labor shortages and major disruptions in the supply chain, worsened by the pandemic, have caused many businesses and consumers across to the country to see delays in their printing orders. What's more, many paper manufacturers have scaled back their operations due to the highly contagious delta variant. Some paper manufacturers have even shifted to producing cardboard boxes for online orders.

Costs for those who make paper have increased, too. Wood pulp, the raw material used in paper, has gone up 50.2% over the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The price of paper rose 14.2% in the same time period.

Some experts say the paper shortage could last well into next year or even 2023.

CORRECTION (Sept. 14, 2021, 10:44 a.m.): A previous version of this story misstated the name of the CEO of Barnes & Noble. His name is James Daunt, not Durant.