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INDIANAPOLIS – Experts are concerned the new omicron variant COVID-19 cases could cause more slowdowns to our supply chains, potentially causing additional challenges for Indiana businesses.

“Retailers are exhausted,” said Leigh Ann Akard, the owner of Akard True Value Hardware in Zionsville.

Akard said the front of her store is normally filled with Christmas decorations this time of year. But that’s not the case this season.

“We have over 700 items that have been out of inventory,” Akard said. “Some of them going back to the beginning of COVID.”

The good news, Akard said, is her store did receive some items she didn’t expect to get.

Hoosier business owners are starting to see some improvements but are still dealing with slowdowns, according to Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

“It is impactful on Indiana because we are the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country,” Brinegar said.

It’s too early to tell exactly how the omicron variant may impact supply chains and Indiana businesses, Brinegar said, though a surge in cases could stall the supply chain recovery.

“That’ll potentially pull people, truckers off the road and people off the loading dock,” Brinegar said.

Experts say it’ll likely take until at least the middle of next year for the supply chain issues to be resolved.

Others are optimistic omicron will have minimal impact – as long as we don’t see widespread shutdowns.

“We’re already having a lot of supply chain issues, so I don’t see it exacerbating or increasing the problem beyond that,” said Amrou Awaysheh, executive director of the Indiana University Business Sustainability and Innovation Lab.

Meanwhile, business owners are trying to stay positive.

“We have just kept adjusting our sale and trying to keep on top of what the trends are, what people are doing, how we can be as nimble and responsive as possible,” Akard said.

Experts urge Hoosiers to get their holiday shopping done as soon as possible due to the supply chain issues.