FERNDALE, Mich. (WXYZ) — It's clear from the dozens of photos of empty shelves, crowded grocery store parking lots, and Black Friday-like lines for common household goods, that the COVID-19 panic has taken effect in metro Detroit.
While many people are feeling the need to stock pile certain items - grocers are warning that over-purchasing and "panic buying" can make small shortages even worse, and can also leave others without items they need.
“It is a little bit overwhelming, what people are doing with the toilet paper and the water and stuff," said shopper Nakisha Merritt in Ferndale.
Meijer's customer service hot line now plays an automated message, telling customers that demand for common items has increased and that "we’re working very hard to secure additional quantities."
Earlier this month, Kroger placed a limit on sanitizers, cold and flu items, and certain household goods to three per order.
“We’ve been out of hand sanitizer for over a week. There’s just none available through any of our supply chains," said Jared Guild of Western Market in Ferndale.
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Unlike major chains, his store is smaller community market that offers specialty items along with basic grocery needs.
Guild said in the past day or so, his store has been much busier. They've still got toilet paper, and most of the items currently out of stock he expects to have replaced within a day or two.
“I think the kids being home from school is a big difference. So we’re seeing a lot of snacks sell. We started stocking up on soap and household cleaners about a week or two ago. Those are moving really quickly.”
He's noticing anxiety impacting some shoppers, but is encouraging his customers to take this in stride.
Shopper Kelli Bracken wasn't letting Coronavirus hype affect her cart on Friday.
“Just essentials for around the house. Loaded up on fruits and veggies," she said. “You know I think we’re just worried about like if I have to be quarantined I want to make sure I have enough food to eat for myself and my family.”
Guild said in preparation for COVID-19 spreading, Western Market has stopped food demos and has sanitizing stations around the store.
"We’re kind of on the front lines, certainly not like a health care worker, but we plan on staying open and being here and being available to the community," he told Action News.
Meanwhile, Michigan's Attorney General's office is warning consumers of price-gouging during this state of emergency, after reports of a business on the west side of the state significantly marking up face masks.