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Grocery stores prepare for shortages, place limits on some items

Posted at 7:54 AM, Nov 12, 2020

Grocery stores are preparing for more shortages and two chains have already announced limits on buying some items.

Kroger is allowing customers two each of paper towels, toilet paper, disinfecting wipes and hand soap. H-E-B is putting limits on those same things, along with rubbing alcohol, and first aid and cleaning gloves.

A supply chain expert tells us the upcoming holidays and a recent surge in COVID-19 cases are adding to demand.

Manufacturers are focusing on the most popular products, so less variety may also make it seem like there are more shortages.

Months of steady demand has made it tough for retailers to stock up.

“There hasn't been really a low season across the board to allow for building up inventory that we can use during the holiday season when we expect a surge in demand,” said Rafay Ishfaq, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at Auburn University.

Another chain, Stew Leonard's, says it's ordering 20% more stock than usual before the holidays this year. Meanwhile, it's already seen an uptick in panic buying.

Customers are looking for cleaning supplies, frozen foods and comfort foods.

“I think there was a little unrest over the election and there still is, and people aren't really sure if there's going to be any type of a lockdown in America,” said Stew Leonard's CEO Stew Leonard Jr.

In talking to customers, Stew Leonard's says it's found more people are preparing for small Thanksgiving gatherings. So, it's stocking up on smaller turkeys and offering recipes to people who are trying a hand at cooking one for the first time.

By anticipating the changes, the chain hopes to keep shelves full through the end of the year.