ST. LOUIS – This time last year, supply chain and inventory issues were so bad we created a special half-hour broadcast called “Season of Shortages” to prepare consumers for their holiday shopping.

A year later, it appears the landscape is changing.

“A lot of these businesses are seeing inventories, particularly retailers, are seeing inventories that are above their desired levels,” said Nathan Jefferson, an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Jefferson has published a report on regional business inventories. He says higher inflation and new shifts in consumer behavior have created uncertainty for retailers and manufacturers.

“Consumers are going out and they’re going back to restaurants again. They’re going on vacations again,” he said. “Now, spending is shifting back in the other direction, but these retailers have these inventories that are above the levels they want to have them at.”

Jake Waterkotte, the purchasing director for Slyman Brothers Appliances, says the company’s inventory levels are just right.

“During the pandemic, at the height of it, we were just buying whatever was in stock,” he said. “We’re not at that point anymore. We’re buying what is selling and what is popular.”

Waterkotte credits their good fortune to buying and good customers.

“We didn’t get too crazy where we’re bringing too much in and then we’re sitting on it,” he said. “I’m not sure how it is at some of the national chains, but for us, we’ve got such a good customer base in St. Louis that they’ve rallied behind family businesses, so for us, it hasn’t shifted much at all.”

But for retailers who may be carrying more inventory than they’d like, the Jefferson says it could benefit holiday shoppers.

“Particularly for seasonal goods. Particularly for home goods. Those are the areas where we’ve heard the most about potential discounts. So yeah, there may be some silver lining there right now,” he said.

To read Jefferson’s full report: