We’re living in a material world. But we’re out of materials. In many product areas, the elf on the shelf is all by himself. For years, just in time manufacturing and stocking has been revolutionizing retail. “By keeping inventories thin, major retailers have been able to use more of their space to display a wider array of goods. Just In Time has enabled manufacturers to customize their wares. And lean production has significantly cut costs while allowing companies to pivot quickly to new products.” But during the pandemic, just in time turned into just short. “This helps explain why Nike and other apparel brands struggle to stock retail outlets with their wares. It’s one of the reasons construction companies are having trouble purchasing paints and sealants. It was a principal contributor to the tragic shortages of personal protective equipment early in the pandemic, which left frontline medical workers without adequate gear.” Peter S. Goodman and Niraj Chokshi in the NYT: How the World Ran Out of Everything. (And I thought it was only semiconductors, toilet paper, and ethics.)