Why Do We Have a Traffic Paint Shortage?If you went shopping during the spring of 2020, you may have found shelves bare that once overflowed with dozens of brands of bathroom tissue, hand sanitizer, and paper towels. At the very least, you likely found that your store had imposed purchase limits on many products. Many of these shortages were the result of panic-buying and hoarding during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. As time passed, you likely began to hear about disruptions in the supply chain that were preventing manufacturers from meeting the demand for their products. Your neighbor is not hoarding traffic paint, but supply chain disruptions are definitely contributing to the traffic paint shortage used to stripe and mark parking lots, streets, and highways.

How Do Disrupted Supply Chains Affect Traffic Paint Manufacturers?

In prehistoric times, paint often used ingredients that could be found nearby, including charcoal, berries, ochre, and sap. However, as long as 25,000 years ago, people were willing to travel great distances to find iron oxides that would make their paints more durable. If they were unable to make the trip or find the iron oxide, you might say that their supply chain was disrupted. Modern paints are much more complex, incorporating pigments and chemicals from various suppliers. If their suppliers cannot furnish paint manufacturers with the raw materials that they need, a shortage will occur. This is what has happened in the paint industry recently.

What Has Disrupted the Traffic Paint Supply Chain?

Although it would be naïve to completely discount the impact that the pandemic has had on supply chains in all industries, in the case of traffic paint, nature has been the primary contributor to the current disruptions. Throughout 2021, several events have occurred that have played havoc with the supply chain. Supply issues in 2021 started with the debilitating, prolonged outbreak of unusually cold weather that struck in February. This was followed by record-breaking heat in the western states, flash floods in some of the states along the Gulf Coast, and tornadoes and wildfires in multiple states. Hurricane Ida cut a path of destruction from Louisiana to New England, and bridges, rail lines, and roadways in many areas were severely damaged. Oil production in the Gulf was brought to a halt when workers had to be evacuated, impacting the raw materials used for resins and acrylics. Widespread power outages occurred, and some areas went without power for more than a week. Ida also spawned several tornadoes, and the torrential rain caused more flooding. All of these weather-related events affected the ability of suppliers to manufacture and ship the ingredients needed by paint companies. However, you should also remember that the demand for pavement paint increases from late spring to early autumn.

How Long Will the Shortage of Traffic Paint Last?

Not even the experts can agree on when paint supplies will return to acceptable levels. In May 2021, some analysts felt that the shortage would last for only a few weeks, but other analysts predicted a shortage that would persist for months. Keep in mind that this was before Hurricane Ida. Currently, economists are still debating whether the shortage will end during the autumn of 2021, persist throughout the winter, or fluctuate for a year or more.

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