It was bound to happen. Late fall snow in Canada should come as no surprise. But sure enough, all of a sudden phones are ringing in tire shops across the country.
A looming tire shortage is just around the corner as businesses deal with uncertainties pertaining to the global supply chain. Southeast Asia accounts for 97% of the world’s natural rubber production with Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam leading the way. As the region was battered by Covid-19 cases, rubber production has been hit by a shortage of workers and lockdown measures.
Canada is not about to run out of winter tires but the industry is predicting shortages in some brands and sizes. Goodyear predicts that it will be short about five million tires. Pandemic disruption in the rubber industry, shipping backlogs, and rising demand in China are all contributing to it.
There are still tires around but choices are limited for consumers. Canadian demand is relatively predictable year-over-year and that has help the industry plan ahead. According to a TRAC’s 2021 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study, winter tire usage in Canada had grown to 76% in 2021 compared to 66% in 2017, 58% in 2014, and 35% in 1998. Around 79% of Canadian drivers said that winter tires have saved them from being involved in a potentially hazardous driving situation.
In a way, the pandemic has also helped with the shortages; a lot of cars were parked last winter which caused sales to lag, leaving inventory to deal with shortages now.