With COVID-19 cases surging across the US, panic buying is back in vogue — as evidenced by a sea of empty shelves in supermarkets across the nation in scenes reminiscent of earlier this year, according to a report.
The rush on food, toilet paper, sanitizing products and other essentials comes amid a series of new lockdown measures after states reported record daily spikes in cases this month, the Daily Mail reported.
Twenty states have reported all-time highs in deaths as the nation grapples with an average of more than 148,000 new cases a day and 1,120 daily deaths in the past week, according to the outlet.
More than 247,000 people have died of the illness in the US, where 11.2 million cases have been confirmed with Thanksgiving around the corner, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Virginia, some large chains — such as Walmart and Kroger — are already experiencing a second wave of panic buying, the Daily Mail reported, citing ABC8 News.
“There will be a second rush. I am very confident in my store and what we have now. They learned from what happened six months ago and they brought product in early,” local store owner Norm Gold told the station, according to the report.
In Indianapolis, images show barren aisles as shoppers stock up for the holidays.
“I have a pantry and my freezer full. I figure I have enough food at home to last me through January,” John Notarianni told WTHR, according to the Daily Mail.
A Kroger rep said the company learned a lot about its supply and demand during the start of the pandemic.
“The key is for us to make sure people don’t panic and don’t hoard. There is plenty of food in the supply chain,” Eric Halverson said. “What we learned was we didn’t impose product restrictions early enough and that created a run on the system and created some difficulties for people.”
In Washington state, meanwhile, a Target and a Costco in Spokane Valley also were wiped clean, the UK news outlet reported, citing KREM2.
“I really hope we don’t have hoarding going on in our stores. That’s really not necessary and most unhelpful,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.
A worker at a Seattle WinCo Food market told The Daily Beast that when she arrive for work at 4 a.m. Monday, the store was fully stocked with toilet paper and paper towels.
But by 1 p.m., Deirdre, who declined to give her last name, said the store decided to limit the number of such items each customer could buy. An hour later, she said, “We were already down to where you could see the back walls.”
In Minnesota, meanwhile, a grocery store worker said people are hoarding toilet paper in particular.
“People are stockpiling now not because they’re afraid of being stuck at home, but because they’ve seen everyone else buying it up and are afraid they won’t be able to get any when they need it later,” Bennett told The Daily Beast without giving his last name.
Despite the increasing race to stock up, supply chain experts and supermarket officials don’t believe the expected shortages will be as severe as the ones from last spring, The Daily Beast reported.
“People have already hoarded a lot of this stuff in their basements,” Subodha Kumar, a supply chain expert at Temple University, told the outlet.
And like several months ago, good ’ol toilet paper remains one of the most coveted products during the pandemic.
Steven Taylor, an expert on pandemic psychology at the University of British Columbia, told The Daily Beast that it remains a hot commode-ity because by now “many consumers expect other people to panic buy it.”
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