Conservatives take to social media to blame Biden for the supply chain crisis with #BareShelvesBiden, while others hit back with images of fully stocked stores

Supply chain stock shortages
A grocery store shopper browses a limited supply of bread. ArtMarie/Getty Images
  • Conservatives are flocking to social media to blame President Biden for supply-chain issues using the hashtag #BareShelvesBiden.
  • In response, some users are debunking images of empty grocery stores as old, edited or from a different country.
  • The movement comes amid mounting tension over supply chain snags and Biden’s “Build Back Better” economic plan.

As the supply chain crisis intensifies, some Americans are taking to social media to blame President Joe Biden and mock the administration’s $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion “Build Back Better” economic plan.

On Twitter, the hashtag #BareShelvesBiden has started trending, as users share photos and memes of empty shelves from retail stores around the country. The movement has prompted a subsequent backlash from others debunking the images as old, doctored, or from other countries, as well as countering with images of their own of fully stocked grocery stores.

#BareShelvesBiden first began picking up steam on Tuesday, following a viral Facebook meme that contrasts a fully stocked grocery store shelf with an empty one, along with the captions “Trump’s America” and “Biden’s America,” respectively. According to the fact-checking site Snopes, the top image is actually a 2012 photo from a store in Melbourne, Australia, while the bottom photo was taken in South Carolina in 2018 during Hurricane Florence.

The meme was allegedly posted in response to continued delays at major ports, which have since prompted the Biden Administration to broker a deal to expand 24-hour operations at the Port of Los Angeles.

“With holidays coming up, you might be wondering if the gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time. Today we have some good news: We’re going to help speed up the delivery of goods all across America,” Biden said in an address at the White House on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

The #BareShelvesBiden movement continued to grow on Wednesday, after conservative commentator Kimberly Klacik shared a since-deleted photo of an empty grocery store with the caption “A Look at #BuildBackBetter.” According to Politifact, the image – which depicts price tags in British pounds – is actually from a UK grocery store, taken at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

The photo was featured on an editorial in The Guardian published on March 27, 2020, along with the caption “Empty shelves at a Tesco store in Worcester,” Politifact reported.

The social media discourse reflects rising tension over pandemic-driven inflation and mounting supply chain snags, driven by factors including raw-material shortages, increased transportation costs, delays in production, port congestion, and the national labor shortage.

The country’s largest ports in Southern California reached new ship-backlog records every day last month, as shipping times and costs dramatically increased. An estimated 77% of global shipping ports are expected to face delays, and UPS President Scott Price said last month to expect delays and lags to continue through the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

The discourse also comes amid contention over the Build Back Better plan, a $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion reconciliation bill proposed by House Democrats that includes expanded social safety net programs and funding to combat climate change. The legislation is widely opposed by Republicans and some conservative Democrats, including Senators Krysten Simena and Joe Manchin, due to the high price tag.