Coronavirus Related Shortages in Shops

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I ventured out to check the situations in shops today. It all seemed mostly normal, except for (mostly) Toilet Paper, hand sanitizer, and bleach.

My first stop was Target, in El Dorado Hills, California, where there were some understocked shelves. The first thing I noticed was bleach:
Metabunk 2020-03-11 16-48-52.jpg
Still plenty of it, but obviously people buying more than normal.

No hand sanitizer at all, and there was a larger demand for hand soap.
Metabunk 2020-03-11 16-51-35.jpg

Toilet paper very much in demand, with just three packs left at Target.
Metabunk 2020-03-11 16-52-07.jpg

I then went to the fancy Nugget Markets, nearby. The TP situation was a lot better, they seemed to actually have more than normal and about 20 different kinds!
Metabunk 2020-03-11 16-54-32.jpg

Why would this be? Better supply? Rich people panic buying less?

There were empty shelves for bleach and hand soap and sanitizers, but much smaller.

Metabunk 2020-03-11 16-57-15.jpg
Metabunk 2020-03-11 16-58-39.jpg
Overall Nugget seemed more or less normal, just these few small gaps.

I then went to Costco (a warehouse store that sells things in bulk.) I didn't get any photos of empty shelves, as other products had replaced them on the shelves, flooding in to fill the void like waves over a sinking ship. I went to the Toilet Paper aisle, which was pretty huge two weeks ago, only to find it replaced with dog food and detergent. Confused shoppers hovered around as if hoping the TP would suddenly arrive.

I saw a few people with masks in Costco, none elsewhere.

One odd thing they had run out of was ground coffee. They normally had half ground coffee, and half whole bean, on the shelves. But there was no ground coffee. Are people stocking up in anticipating of being stuck indoors?

Other shortages at costco: large bags of rice and large plastic jars of mixed nuts. That's all I noticed.

There were no long lines anywhere, it all seemed normal.
 
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FYI -- About the same here in Florida. Two comments -- one, we can't find disinfecting wipes ("Chlorox wipes") anywhere. Two, our hardware big box stores seem to have stocked up with their usual household hurricane supplies (not lumber) early -- bottled water, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. But, they also do NOT have any disinfecting wipes. Can't find them on Amazon, either, BTW. Supplies of Isopropyl Alcohol starting to get low, as well, as folks discover YT videos for hand sanitizer (70% alcohol or greater, plus aloe vera gel apparently will work.) No folks in masks here, even though we have a relatively large elderly population. No long lines, either. Our grocery and box stores are limiting quantities when they do have the shortage items in-stock (including facial tissue) to 2 items per customer.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
what's with the entering every public place? are you trying to catch it :)
I (mostly) maintained my distance from people.

One checker at Costco was sneezing. People looked a bit perturbed, but did not change lines. I was in another line.

I also have some hand sanitizer in the car. It seems like the "being coughed at" route of transmission predominates, but why take a chance.
 

cloudspotter

Senior Member.
Spotted a few empty shelves in shops recently - pasta, baked beans, hand sanitiser, paracetamol. Haven't noticed any difference in the shoppers really, but I did spot a queue this morning waiting for a branch of Boots to open
 
they might have just restocked before you got there. I love that floor. quite nice.

what's with the entering every public place? are you trying to catch it :)
Having spent my youth time in the retail world, yes, that's been recently stocked. Everything is faced and pushed to the front of the shelf. There's only a handful of spots where something had been taken (one Quilted Northern, a couple Charmin). The only way it looks that neat is someone reset that aisle in the last few hours.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Having spent my youth time in the retail world, yes, that's been recently stocked. Everything is faced and pushed to the front of the shelf. There's only a handful of spots where something had been taken (one Quilted Northern, a couple Charmin). The only way it looks that neat is someone reset that aisle in the last few hours.
It always looks like that in Nugget. It's a fancy store (like Gelsons) where they have people who just go around and constantly arrange things nicely.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Why would this be? Better supply? Rich people panic buying less?
i'm wondering if it's house space. was thinking..., my dad buys a 24 pack everytime he goes to Costco (doing this for years)because he has no idea if they need more. They have enough tp for like 3 years. But they also have the space to store it. So it is possible that "rich" people already have ample supplies.
I only buy like 6 rolls at a time due to my storage situation.

My parents also have like 30 boxes of tissues stored at any given time, where as I only ever have 2 tissue boxes. I bring up tissues because tissues are expensive lately. I think a lot of "poor" people use tp as tissue. I often do.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
my dad buys a 24 pack everytime he goes to Costco (doing this for years)because he has no idea if they need more
They only have the big packs in Costco. I've been shopping at Costco for many years, but I know friends in LA who find the idea of Costco to be rather alien, and prefer just doing small shopping trips every few days. Different people have different shopping mentalities. Partly depends on your distance to the store - and, as you say, storage space. I'd think most people living in Manhattan don't have more than a few days supplies or anything other than bathroom stuff.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Really though, as he points out, there's plenty of food. Just a chunk of people are freaking out a little and buying stuff in anticipation of some kind of lock-down or self-isolation. Obviously there's no immediate supply issue for food, it's just logistics, and a few items running out.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Plus unless it gets super bad (which will take a long while), i'm sure the States/Churches will deliver food to you if you need to self quarantine and tell them you are out of food.

they locked down New Rochelle (Westchester NY), and the National Guard is already distributing food even though its only been 1 day.
1584056779975.png
 
It always looks like that in Nugget. It's a fancy store (like Gelsons) where they have people who just go around and constantly arrange things nicely.
That is fancy. Everywhere I've shopped, even at higher-end places, always has this...sort of sloppy appearance unless they just opened.

Last night, we went on our regular scheduled trip to Target. Not a single fragment of toilet paper, the pharmacy section was obliterated, and the cat litter (?????) was very picked over. The rest of the store was fairly normal.

That cat litter, though, was pretty odd to me. There's a Petco next door and they were fully stocked with litter.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Interesting to note the toilet paper shelves empty but plenty of kitchen towel on offer.

How long till people get desperate and resort to barbarism and depravity?
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
but plenty of kitchen towel on offer.
was thinking that too. you can totally use paper towel as tp in a pinch. BUT all I see is Bounty, they might have just got a Bounty delivery. And I would use store brand or Brawny as tp as its a lot cheaper.

That cat litter, though, was pretty odd to me.
cat litter is toilet paper for cats. so that makes sense. imagine having covid-19 and your cat peeing on your sofa at the same time? that would suck.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Not really. Demand for fuel is down, not up. I was referring to toilet paper shortages in the USSR.
It was clear to me, as I lived in the USSR at the time. However, the title of this photo, "Deficit", may refer to shortages of too many other consumer goods, the scourge of Soviet 'planned' economics. This includes the shortage of private cars, limiting shoppers to the amount of goods they could carry themselves.

Supermarket trolleys and big car boots raised modern shopping to a higher level.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member.
My perspective is grocery shopping in OZ is oddly strange ATM, last week was poo paper panicky but this week more a calm & we all in this together community feel.. Some goods shelves are empty others normal..

Fuel prices are down 15+%

A rumor washed though the population today that shops could be restricted or closed for 2 weeks and banking fiance & health systems may be impacted as staff succumb or forced to self isolate..

Australia now has 200 confirmed cases.
 

Ravi

Member
Dutch native here, I can only say it is similar to what you all describe above. Yesterday literally half of all grocery stores was out of fresh food (veg, meat etc), canned food and toilet paper etc. Nice huh.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Metabunk 2020-03-14 05-32-59.jpg
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/technology/coronavirus-purell-wipes-amazon-sellers.html
It's a modern problem. It would not have been viable to do this a few years ago. Mostly harmless until now - when people who actually need the products can't get them. It's a bit of a quandary for pure free-marketers, as it's a type of rapidly exploitable market that was not envisaged in classical economics.

Too late!
 

qed

Senior Member
In South Africa, N95 masks are now finished. People are now buying VIC821.

Are these of any value, and if not, can they be "pimped" to effectivness?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Seems like VIC821 comes in varieties, both FFP1 and FFP2. You want FFP2, although FFP1 is certainly a lot better than nothing.

Metabunk 2020-03-14 07-25-53.jpg
 

qed

Senior Member
We have FFP1 left in fairly large supply in paint shops. I have yet to locate FFP2. As always, thanks Metabunkers.
 

M Bornong

Senior Member.
Bakersfield California, panic shopping being reported by our local news. My wife tried to do our normal shopping yesterday, she said the lines to all the check stands were to the back of the store. She came back home. We always keep a couple of weeks of essential supplies on hand, normal earthquake preparedness.

The only thing we are low on is coffee, we're good until about mid-week. Hopefully things calm down in a couple of days, it would be a true disaster if we run out of coffee.

https://tinyurl.com/rv7nsqg
kgetcostco.jpg

https://tinyurl.com/tey8u66
kgetwinco.jpg
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The only thing we are low on is coffee, we're good until about mid-week. Hopefully things calm down in a couple of days, it would be a true disaster if we run out of coffee.
ah!!! I didn't buy masks or sanitizer or cleaning supplies or tp, but I did buy 5 lbs of coffee (online Walmart). and that coffee creamer. (which will probably clog my arteries if I have to drink it for 2 months. :)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Bakersfield California, panic shopping being reported by our local news.
I think this varies greatly. A friend was just at the Folsom Costco and said it seems "busy" but they are "handling the extra traffic well.
Bakersfield is geographically isolated, so maybe people there feel the need to prep more. It 80 miles to the next town with a Costco!
 

tinkertailor

Senior Member.
The situation in Los Angeles is pretty dire. I have dietary restrictions and pretty much survive off of frozen edamame and dried brown rice, so my food options are going to be interesting for a bit. The local Ralph's is so swamped that they now automatically send emails to anyone on their mailing list that they are in DESPERATE need of people to stock shelves. I thought it was just me, since I had applied to work there last October, but when I went to work today (department stores are dead, it's a great time to buy that prom dress your daughter probably won't get to use!) all of my coworkers had the same experience and none of them applied there. Trader Joe's and Costco are absolute wrecks. I ventured to a Target on my lunch break and revelled at the chaos--no soap, no sanitizer, no cleaning products, no paper goods, no rice, one off-brand of beans, no canned fruits or veggies, no Gatorade, no protein bars, no cereal. The only pasta available was gluten free lasagna noodles. The only bottled water I saw was Dasani, a few pallets of it, the rest was all gone. My coworker who lives in East LA says that she stocked up easily by driving to the brokest neighborhoods. It appears, at least in LA, that stocking up is a middle- and upper-class luxury, and the things they're stocking up on are the cheap, filling foods that a lot of disenfranchised people feed their children off of: rice, beans, store-brand pasta.
 

M Bornong

Senior Member.
I think this varies greatly. A friend was just at the Folsom Costco and said it seems "busy" but they are "handling the extra traffic well.
Bakersfield is geographically isolated, so maybe people there feel the need to prep more. It 80 miles to the next town with a Costco!
Yes it varies greatly, a friend in Norco, also doesn't have a bunch of Costcos close, not quite as geographically isolated as Bakersfield.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/groups/542375279553237/permalink/888032234987538/?comment_id=888153474975414&reply_comment_id=888154178308677

norco.jpg
 

Agent K

Active Member
It was clear to me, as I lived in the USSR at the time. However, the title of this photo, "Deficit", may refer to shortages of too many other consumer goods, the scourge of Soviet 'planned' economics. This includes the shortage of private cars, limiting shoppers to the amount of goods they could carry themselves.

Supermarket trolleys and big car boots raised modern shopping to a higher level.
Q: What's better, newspapers or television?
A: Newspapers. You can't wipe your ass with a TV.

Q: What food is good for quarantine?
A: Matzo
Q: Because it has a long shelf life?
A: It can be slipped under the door.
 
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Agent K

Active Member
Before the panic shopping, there were the Daigou.

Forget A2 Milk: Professional daigou shoppers buying up face masks to send to China
https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/face-masks-sent-to-china-by-daigou-shoppers-004441993.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daigou
 

Nada Truther

Active Member
The only bottled water I saw was Dasani, a few pallets of it
Why water, I wonder. That was the first thing that I noticed when venturing into Sam's club. I usually have a case of bottled water in my garage to grab, if I need one in the car, or if I am going somewhere that I am not going to be able to get water, like a bike ride, or something like that. But generally, most of my water comes from the good ol' tap. Do people think that COVID 19 is going to hit the water supply? I can see toilet paper and food, because you don't want to have to go out into the world, but how much bottled water do people go through regularly?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Why water, I wonder.
In the US, the most common disasters are earthquakes and hurricanes. In both those water supplies are disrupted, so "emergency preparation", in most people's minds, includes water (and batteries).

This is a bit different, as there's the idea of being confined to home for an indefinite length of time. Hence toilet paper and food. Although I think the TP thing (and to some extent the water thing) was largely driven by people doing it because other people were doing it. If there are apparent shortages of something then people hoard that thing, which leads to shortages.

The shortages are just short term ones - in some cases just revolving around the normal nightly re-stocking. Stores and supplies are adjusting, but also I think they don't want over-correct and end up with truckloads of stuff with nowhere to go.
 

LogiCat

New Member
I live in Plano, Texas. And yes, Frisco, Texas is on our border. Even with that, the [hoarders] haven't really done any damage to the stores...until this past Friday (yes....Friday the 13th, LOL).

A friends Birthday was on the 14th and I stopped by my usual Tom Thumb store on the way home to pick up some strawberries. The place was ransacked!!! The only produce in the entire produce area were bananas, onions, grapes, and apples. Literally all other display shelves and stands were completely bare!

The milk section was decimated. The paper isle was barren. The chip isle was wasted. There was, however, plenty of bottled water.

I have to tell you though, that being a native Texan, I've been through plenty of "droughts" of all kinds, and I've NEVER seen anything like this! Not even during "Y2K"!! True Texans aren't hoarders (unless it's an OCD thing), and we certainly don't go psycho over something like this. We've been though Swine Flu, Avian Flu, SARS, AIDS/HIV, and many other such "epidemics/pandemics", and nothing like this has ever happened around here.

For me personally, I always buy a bit more than usual, as I like a small supply on hand, because the older I get, the less I like having to go to the store. But that's my norm, not because I'm a hoarder or psycho vulture.

Back to the stock shortages.......... I went from Tom Thumb to Dollar Tree, where they were stocked full of paper products, food supplies, and such. The only empty shelves I could see in the store were kitchen supplies! I'm talking about mixing spoons, bowls, whisks, measuring cups....that sort of thing. That section of the store was completely empty! I don't know if the store was rearranging or if it was all really bought out. Weird though, they even had toilet paper. And even for being Friday after work, the dollar store only had about 5 customers in there, and usually it is packed on Fridays after work.

I can only make a logical assumption that the [hoarders] were not from this area, and were travelling from other places to the larger chain stores to strip them, because we true Texans just don't condone that kind of stupidity. Texas is a state of having it all. We have farms to keep us fed, we have paper mills to keep us in paper products, we have some of the best medical facilities in the country, we just HAVE....so we don't have a need to panic and become psycho vultures. Even during times in the past we've had "shortages", they certainly didn't last more than one or two weeks. Again, no reason to turn into a [hoarder].

The thing that REALLY scares me about all of this, is that I've noticed how much more worse the [hoarders] get when something like this occurs. They swoop in and decimate a larger percentage each time. I would hazard a guess, from my perspective, that after at least 3-4 more of these "scares", the [hoarders] are going to be in a massively more dangerous number than the people with common sense and rational brains. And that is something I really don't want to see.
 
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