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Coronavirus in Arizona: Why are Valley grocery store shelves still empty?

Posted at 10:55 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 07:19:24-04

After weeks of bare shelves, and a hunt for what use to be readily- available household goods like toilet paper and cleaning products, are Valley grocery store shelves improving?

“It seems like there’s less out of stock items than there have been in the past," said Mark Miller, President of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance. “You have to have patience; I think they’re doing their best they can to meet their customers’ needs."

Miller says most stores are seeing a steady supply of things like milk, eggs and bread, while some paper products and cleaners are still hard to come by, even after help from Arizona's National Guard.

"This isn’t an issue that’s just in our state that we can just get the product from one state to the other," added Miller. "This is a 50-state problem across every different border."

National Guard members were deployed to help restock shelves at the peak of the shortage, but Major Aaron Thacker tells ABC15 their efforts are now being shifted to help distribute medical supplies and help the Navajo Nation, the Arizona tribe struggling through a surge in cases.

Still, Guard members are just one tool to help solve a larger issue. "The manufacturers are having a difficult time keeping up with the demand," said Miller of toilet paper. He says there are companies who produce toilet paper for personal use and others for commercial use.

With Arizonans and families across the nation now spending more time at home, whether it be working, or simply staying indoors to stop the spread, Miller says "The demand has been moved tremendously over to the homes. [Companies] on the business side can’t produce the home use, so that’s what’s really driving the empty shelves at this point.”

So, if you're still not seeing what you need at your local grocery store, your only option may be to wait a little longer, but relief should come sooner rather than later.

"We’re just gonna have to work together and be patient and just buy what you need," Miller said. "Give us a chance to do what we do best and that’s take care of our customers.”