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Shelves still empty, weeks after initial 'panic buying'

Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 22:31:11-04

It’s been weeks since people began panic buying at stores because of the COVID-19 outbreak. While we’ve seen some improvement, customers still can’t seem to find essential items.

“Paper products are all gone, shelves are really bare,” one shopper told ABC15.

So we asked grocery store chains across the Valley, what are they doing to make sure certain products are readily available?

When ABC15 visited a Bashas’, Fry’s, Walmart, Target and Safeway in the Valley on Wednesday, all were out of toilet paper.

A spokesperson for locally-based Bashas’ said their CEO isn’t doing interviews at this time.

They sent ABC15 this statement, when asked how often they’re stocking shelves: “We are stocking shelves across all of our 115 stores on a regular and consistent basis. We have new hires that are working throughout our entire company, in the stores as well as at our distribution center.”

A spokesperson for Fry’s told ABC15, “We receive product deliveries all day every day to our warehouse and then do everything we can to get the product to our stores as quickly as possible, to be stocked on the shelves.”

After three days, Walmart never responded to ABC15’s request for comment.

A spokesperson for Albertsons/Safeway told ABC15: “The retail food industry is experiencing a higher demand on selected items like dairy, paper and cleaning products than ever before. We are working closely with our suppliers to get the items shoppers need as quickly as possible. We continue to receive shipments and replenish our shelves to the best of our ability every day. To make it easier for shoppers to find the items they need, we have reduced store hours so we can spend more time stocking our shelves. And, we’ve hired more people to put the product on our shelves. We appreciate our shopper’s patience as we work to meet this increase demand.”

Hitendra Chaturvedi, a professor of practice at W.P. Carey Supply Chain Management, said limited distribution trucks are to blame.

“There are a limited amount of trucks to move things from a wholesaler to a distributor. What you’re seeing is only at the retailer but there’s a lot of things happening on the back end that the product has to move,” he said. “To fix this give it another 10-15 days, I think we’ll be back to normal.”