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How supermarkets are fighting pandemic hoarding 2.0

Research shows 57% of consumers plan to restock due to 'potential second wave of COVID-19'
Posted at 4:35 AM, Dec 01, 2020

Remember the product shortages back in March and April when the COVID pandemic first hit?

Most of us remember all too well the hunt for disinfectant wipes, toilet paper and more during those early days.

With COVID-19 cases soaring, shoppers like Jalen Snowdon are grabbing those supplies again.

”Oh, I have to,” he said. “I don’t know when I am going to get back out again. I have a bad immune system, so I gotta get back out there.”

Kroger gave us access to the just re-opened Independence, Kentucky, Kroger on Friday, where we found decent supplies of toilet paper, paper towels and even some Lysol Wipes and hand sanitizer.

All are selling fast. Asa result, Kroger put up new signs limiting sales, just as they did this past spring. The company is placing the new limits across all its locations.

”To ensure all customers have access to what they need, we’ve proactively and temporarily set purchase limits on certain products to two per customer, including bath tissue, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap,” Kroger spokeswoman Erin Rolfes told us.

But Rolfes does not expect the type of shortages shoppers saw back in March and April.

”The pipeline of products is really strong, (and) we are sending great shipments every day from our warehouses to our stores,” she said. “The goal is to make sure everyone has access to the products.”

She said Kroger restocked its warehouses over the summer with toilet paper, sanitizer and as many cleaning supplies as they could find. The one item that remains in short supply: disinfecting wipes.

”We are seeing that our supply chain is strong, but they are still trying to react from what happened in the spring,” Rolfes said.

We spoke with one Instacart shopper who was loading her car with deliveries for customers. She said she has seen a big uptick in orders for paper products, even ramen noodles and canned goods in recent weeks.

”They are stocking up more on ramen and soups and things like that,” the professional shopper said.

Shopper Wendell Scott likes Kroger’s new policy and would like to see limits on even more products right now.

”I think a lot of items should be limited,” he said. “There is only so much a person can use at a time.”

Economist Greg Macaluso of the University of Colorado believes stores are in much better shape right now than back in March.

”No question that necessity has been the mother of invention here,” he said. “They are looking for new international supply, looking for new domestic supply.”

Macaluso says with improved supply chains and deeper stockpiles this time, grocery stores will hopefully get through the winter with decent supplies.

That is, as long as shoppers don’t hoard as they did back in March.