Americans Begin Panic-Buying Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

5 mins read

Consumers across the country have begun to panic-buying necessities such as toilet paper and disinfecting wipes similar to what happened in the coronavirus pandemic’s early stages. However, most retailers are now prepared to meet the demand during the holiday season.

Several grocery chains, including Kroger, Giant, and Target, have placed limitations on how many items each customer can purchase. Despite the expected surge of customers, retailers and supply chain experts say it is unlikely citizens would conduct themselves the same way as the fear-stricken majority in March.

The chief executive of Consumer Brands Association, Geoff Freeman, said he did not expect the situation would be perfect. However, he noted that things would be vastly different from what people observed in March and April because of how the nation has adapted to the virus.

Grocery chain management has said that they failed to impose limitations on high-demand items immediately in the early stages of the pandemic and are working on avoiding the same problem this time. Manufacturers and retailers now have had ample time to prepare their supply chains and processes to address panic-buyers.

Despite their preparedness, managements said that they could not rule out the possibilities of having price hikes or temporary shortages in some areas due to difficulties in transportation and other uncontrollable factors.

The chief executive of Thrive Market, Nick Green, said that the world saw a sudden spike in demand for necessities due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said that since most of the country has seen a surge of new cases, it has also brought another demand surge.

Green said that this time, people have also started to hoard cleaning products, cold and flu medicine, and shelf-stable food. He said that while people are more relaxed with panic-buying their items, they show a shift in consumption habits.

Thrive Market has since doubled its drivers across its two fulfillments in centers found in Indiana and Nevada. The company has also equipped new vertical shelving that would increase shelf capacity and handle high demand.

The chief executive said they are also buying more products directly from brands and avoiding third-party distributors, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Similar actions could be observed across the country as stores begin to increase inventory space and expand the number of distribution centers to serve the expected surge of customers properly. Retailers also noted that consumers’ shift towards online shopping had taken the pressure off of physical outlets.

Last month, Raydiance Swanston from Charlotte started to hoard disinfecting wipes, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. The resident said she chose to buy large quantities of items after seeing the sudden surge of coronavirus cases in her area. She has also started to buy more shelf-stable foods but noted that she has been calmer than she was during the pandemic’s early stages.

The 28-year-old account manager for an IT firm said, “It was very scary at the beginning, but now I’m noticing that the bread aisle isn’t as empty and things like toilet paper are back in stock.” However, she did note that stores have been running out of items such as Clorox and wipes.

The co-founder and chief executive of Boxed.com, Chieh Huang, said that citizens have started hunkering down again after seeing the country’s worrying number of cases. He noted that it is vastly different from earlier this year where most people feared the world was ending.

Passaic resident Darleen Gillyard began stocking up on kitty litter and refrigerated food for her two felines TeeCee and Choo Choo. The 63-year-old said, “Right now, everything is okay, most of the stores are still stocked, but I’m scared that we’ll have to scramble for basic items again. Gillyard said she previously had difficulties buying necessities because shelves were completely wiped out.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.