AKRON, Ohio — A tire shortage is putting pressure on retailers and inflating prices for customers.
"The price that we're paying for tires has went up exponentially and it is a month-to-month problem," said Michelle McCurdy, general manager of Hamad Tire and Auto Service in Akron.
McCurdy said a combination of factors is forcing her to raise the cost of selling tires, including supply chain issues, delays in shipping channels and a workforce shortage in the industry.
"It's not a fun time to be in tires if I'm being honest," she said.
Since October, the cost for Hamad to buy some brands of tires has jumped about 20%, McCurdy told News 5.
On top of that, there has been a dramatic spike in freight costs.
McCurdy said several months ago, the freight charge on a shipment was about $500, but now the cost has jumped to between $8,000 and $10,000.
The overall cost to Hamad for a container of 1,000 tires has nearly doubled, from $46,000 to almost $80,000.
As a result, the sticker shock is being passed along to customers. For example, the out-the-door price of four tires for Hamad's economy-priced tire is around $580 compared to $388 in the fall.
"As much as we try to absorb all we can and not change the prices a lot, eventually it has to get to the point where it has to," McCurdy said.
The Akron dealer said its warehouse, which typically has tires stacked to the ceiling, has far fewer in its inventory.
McCurdy said delays in making tires overseas, mostly from Taiwan, and backups at U.S. shipping channels are two of the driving forces behind the tire shortage.
"We're seeing two things. We're seeing, one, the boats cannot get here. When they do get here, it's a very lengthy time," she said.
Amanda Weinstein, an associate professor of economics at the University of Akron, said it can be difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
"I think this is going to be an issue for a while. We're going to have some stickiness with the pandemic, with fixing supply chains," Weinstein said.
Weinstein said increased demand from consumers is also playing a role in inflated prices.
"We've all started driving more and with driving more comes an increased use in tires and so over the past two years, we didn't have as many needs to replace those tires," Weinstein said.
During his fourth-quarter earnings call on Friday, Goodyear CEO Rich Kramer said the tire company saw a 40% increase in sales, amounting to $5 billion.
Kramer pointed out it was Goodyear's highest fourth-quarter revenue in 10 years, but he also addressed challenges when it comes to overcoming cost inflation.
"To address the cost pressures and supply chain challenges, we've remained agile. During 2021, we've implemented a series of price increases. We're also adding new suppliers, substituting materials when possible and optimizing distribution costs," Kramer said.
Goodyear's leader also said he expects "cost pressures to persist over the next several quarters."
As for McCurdy, she realizes it has been a rough road in the tire business. She's hoping for a bounce-back in the Rubber City, but wonders when that will happen.
"If you get that answer, please let me know because I would love to know," she said.