As COVID cases rise, no need to stockpile supplies, expert says

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, consumers are stocking up, and grocery stores are responding. But before you go on a spending spree, there are some things to consider.

According to NC Solutions, which tracks consumer buying habits, sales of hand sanitizer went up 838-percent during the pandemic leading to empty store shelves and a temporary shortage. And now we are seeing signs of panic buying once again which is not good for any of us.

At the start of the pandemic and throughout the summer, rubbing alcohol, Lysol and cleaning wipes were tough to track down, too. And now as COVID cases spike, consumers and retailers are getting ready. Some grocery chains are reinstating limits on certain products.

The Giant Company, once again, is restricting the purchase of toilet paper and paper towels.

Giant says customers are limited to buying: 1 on all 6 packs and larger of toilet paper and paper towels; 4 on all 4 packs and smaller of toilet paper and paper towels, including single rolls. These limits were put in place on Oct. 29. No other products have limits.

"To be clear, we are seeing little evidence of stockpiling, and there is no need to create panic. Stores receive deliveries throughout the day and team members are working around the clock to restock shelves and online fulfillment centers. In addition, we're in frequent contact with local and national supplier partners to ensure the products customers are looking for get on store shelves as quickly as possible," said a Giant Company spokesperson.

Dr. Pedro Reyes, who teaches a class on global supply chain management at Baylor University, said the limits will help buyer behavior.

"And at the same time, it'll help ensure that there's plenty of supply for everyone to get something," said Reyes.

Reyes said there is no need to panic.

"There's really no need to overbuy, overstock," he said.

Reyes said when consumers hoard, it does stress the system. Products like toilet paper have a historically tight supply chain and, even with major companies running plants 24 hours a day, keeping up with an astronomical increase in sales is impossible.

"The good thing is that the supply chain, the grocery supply chain is really resilient," he said.

Reyes also said he doesn't anticipate the kinds of shortages we saw last spring due to the proliferation of new companies popping up to meet demand at the start of the pandemic.

Over the summer, Clorox said it was making 50% more disinfecting wipes than usual. But the company is still predicting shortages will continue through the end of the year. The company said it is still not at a point where it can fully meet elevated demand.
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