Retailers have been forced to put limits on purchases as panic buying continues across the United States leaving shelves bare amid a surge of new coronavirus cases.
Images taken Tuesday show how stores in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Georgia and Indiana are among those dealing with a rush on demand for toilet paper, cleaning products and groceries.
Walmart said Tuesday it is having trouble keeping up with demand for cleaning supplies in some stores. Supermarket chains Kroger and Publix are limiting how much toilet paper and paper towels shoppers can buy after demand spiked recently. And Amazon is sold out of most disinfectant wipes and paper towels.
Target, whose inventory of cleaning and paper products had taken a hit at the start of the health crisis, said it was making progress in these categories even though sales had not returned to pre-pandemic levels. It said it felt ‘well positioned’ in all of its major categories heading into the peak of the holiday season.
Similar scenes of panic buying played out back in March, when the pandemic first hit and people hunkered down in their homes.
But Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said he doesn’t expect things to be as bad this go-around since lockdowns are being handled on a regional basis and everyone is better prepared.
‘A more informed consumer combined with a more informed manufacturer and a more informed retailer should provide all of us with a greater sense of ease and ensure we can meet this growing demand, ‘ Freeman said.
Deaths are still trending upwards nationally with the number of Americans dying of COVID-19 increasing by 12 percent in the last week. The daily death toll, 1,707 on Tuesday, is still below the 2,500 deaths recorded in April during the initial peak of the virus.
The virus is now blamed for more than 248,000 deaths and over 11 million confirmed infections in the the U.S.
Meijer Store, Carmel, Indiana, Tuesday: Shelves in the paper towel and toilet paper section are depleted at this Meijer Store
Target, Bloomington, Minn, Tuesday: The quantity of paper towels customers can buy is listed at this Target Store. Retailers have been forced to put a limit on purchases amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tuesday: Paper products are in short supply on the shelves of a Pittsburgh market on Tuesday
Costco, Miami, Florida, Tuesday: This North Miami Costco store has long lines of shoppers Tuesday. A similar scene played out back in March, when the pandemic first hit and people hunkered down in their homes
Publix, Atlanta, Georgia, Tuesday: Supermarket chains Kroger and Publix are limiting how much toilet paper and paper towels shoppers can buy after demand spiked recently
Target, New York City, Tuesday: Sign limiting the sale of disinfectant wipes at Target on Tuesday
Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said: ‘It really depends on what’s going on in the state and the city that we’re in. The specific categories where we had the most strain at the present time would be bath tissue and cleaning supplies, and our inventory position on hand sanitizer and masks is very good.
‘We still see some stress in things like deli, bacon, and breakfast foods, but in general there is product available, just assortments of it smaller than it was.’
Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon added: ‘I think the way to think of this is locally it really does have everything to do with what’s happening with COVID cases in any particular community.
‘I was in stores last week and I saw variance from one state to the other, one location to the other, just depends on how people are feeling in that moment.’
Subodha Kumar, a supply chain expert at Temple University, told The Daily Beast: ‘People have already hoarded a lot of this stuff in their basements.’
The surge in demand for certain products comes amid new lockdown measures as the virus runs rampant in the US and places an enormous strain on healthcare systems with record numbers of new cases and hospitalizations.
The biggest supply issue seems to be paper products: 21 per cent of shelves that stock paper towels and toilet paper are empty, the highest level in at least a month, according to market research company IRI.
Cleaning supplies have remained level at 16 per cent. Before the pandemic, 5 per cent to 7 per cent of consumer goods were typically out of stock, IRI said.
Contributing to the problem is the fact that roughly 10 per cent of the workforce at manufacturing plants where the products are made are calling out sick, mainly because they’ve been in contact with others who were tested positive to COVID-19, Freeman said.
Kelly Anderson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, said she needs more supplies now that in-person school in her area was canceled earlier this month and her two children are at home more.
She’s noticed others are stocking up, too: Safeway and Walmart were nearly wiped out of bottled water and disinfectant wipes during a recent visit, both of which had been easy to find since the summer.
It’s also been harder to find a time slot to get her groceries delivered. Anderson says she’s had to wait as many as two days instead of same-day delivery. But that’s still not as bad as earlier this year
‘March seems like a million years ago, but I do remember freaking out,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t get groceries delivered for a week.’
Meijer Store, Carmel, Indiana, Tuesday: Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said he doesn’t expect things to be as bad this go-around since lockdowns are being handled on a regional basis and everyone is better prepared
Walgreens, New York City, Tuesday: Walmart said Tuesday it’s having trouble keeping up with demand for cleaning supplies in some stores
Publix, Atlanta, Georgia, Tuesday: The biggest supply issue seems to be paper products: 21% of shelves that stock paper towels and toilet paper are empty, the highest level in at least a month, according to market research company IRI
Publix, Atlanta, Georgia, Tuesday: Cleaning supplies have remained level at 16%. Before the pandemic, 5% to 7% of consumer goods were typically out of stock, IRI said
Walmart said while supplies are stressed in some areas, it thinks it will be able to handle any stockpiling now than earlier this year. Amazon said its working with manufacturers to get items such as disinfecting wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer in stock.
A new flurry of lockdown measures came as 40 states reported record daily increases in COVID-19 cases this month, while 20 states have registered all-time highs in daily coronavirus-related deaths and 26 reported new peaks in hospitalizations, according to the Reuters tally Tuesday.
Several governors, from New Jersey and California to Iowa and Ohio, acted on Monday to restrict gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving and boost face-coverings in confronting a coronavirus surge they warned is out of control.
In New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home order went into effect Monday. Only essential businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will be open.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States spiked to 166,000 Monday as hospitalizations nationwide surged to a record high of 73,000.
Health experts have projected the coming holiday travel season and the onset of colder weather, with more people tending to congregate indoors, is likely to worsen the situation.
The spike in cases and hospitalizations has been especially striking in places like Iowa, a largely rural, Midwestern Corn Belt state spared the worst ravages of the pandemic when it began eight months ago.
Walgreens, New York City, Tuesday; Disinfectant wipes were largely sold out at a Walgreens store on Tuesday
Walgreens, New York City, Tuesday: Contributing to the problem is the fact that roughly 10% of the workforce at manufacturing plants where the products are made are calling out sick, mainly because they’ve been in contact with others who were tested positive to COVID-19
Duane Reade, New York City, Tuesday: A customer stocks up on paper towel rolls at a Duane Reade on Tuesday
Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Tuesday: A woman buys toilet paper at a market in Mount Lebanon; A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare
Walgreens, New York City, Tuesday: oilet paper, disinfectant and groceries are once again flying off the shelves across the United States with states forced to impose stricter lockdowns and the number of new COVID-19 cases spiking to 166,000
Duane Reade, New York City, Tuesday: Empty shelf of toilet paper and paper towels at Duane Reade on Tuesday
Target, New York City, Tuesday: The surge in demand for certain products comes amid new lockdown measures as the virus runs rampant in the US and places an enormous strain on healthcare systems with record numbers of new cases and hospitalizations
Target, New York City, Tuesday: Almost empty shelf of grocery items at Target on Tuesday
Pfizer said Wednesday it will apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA within days after final results from its late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine showed it was safe and 95 percent effective.
The drugmaker made the newest claim about its vaccine just one week after initial results from the trial showed the jab was more than 90 percent effective.
It comes after rival US company, Moderna, on Monday released preliminary data showing its own vaccine was 94.5 percent effective.
Pfizer, who developed its vaccine with German partner BioNTech SE, said it now has the two months of safety data it needs to apply for emergency use from the FDA.
The US has already pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and officials expect to have 20 million of them available by next month to start vaccinations if approved by the FDA.
The company said its final trial results showed that only eight people out more than 20,000 who got the vaccine caught coronavirus in the study, compared to 162 who were given a fake jab. A total of 10 people got severe COVID-19, one of whom had been given the real vaccine.