Heard on CultureShift

Arriving Today” Tracks a Single Product Across the Globe to Explore Consumerism, Global Supply

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Image credit: Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

Wall Street Journal tech columnist Christopher Mims, author of “Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door — Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy,” says people went on a shopping spree during the pandemic — and have kept on spending.

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It might take us a single click to buy an item on Amazon, but that item could travel up to 14,000 miles before it finally arrives on our doorstep. That includes something as small as a USB drive.

That’s the item that Wall Street Journal tech columnist Christopher Mims tracked across the globe for his book “Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door — Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy.”

The book explores how American consumer habits have helped create a global supply shortage as manufacturing shifts from China to southeast Asia and laborers feel the burden more than ever. Mims says last year during the pandemic when people weren’t going out to eat or going on vacation, they started spending money on goods.

Consumers really went on a shopping spree starting in May 2020,” Mims says. “People just went crazy buying things that they needed to work and educate their kids … and probably a lot of stuff they didn’t need. The supply chain issue we have now is that we have a backlog. People have continued to spend.” 

Consumers really went on a shopping spree starting in May 2020. People just went crazy buying things that they needed to work and educate their kids … and probably a lot of stuff they didn’t need. The supply chain issue we have now is that we have a backlog. People have continued to spend.” — Christopher Mims, author and WSJ tech columnist


Listen: Christopher Mims discusses his new book “Arriving Today,” which tracks a USB device’s 14,000-mile journey.

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Ryan Patrick Hooper, Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. As a longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has covered stories for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.

hooper@wdet.org Follow @HooperRadio

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