Grocery stores working hard to restocking shelves amidst coronavirus outbreak

Grocery stores working hard to restocking shelves amidst coronavirus outbreak
Shoppers are compelled to buy food for longevity due to empty shelves in grocery stores, but grocers say there is no food shortage. (Source: Ryan Bailey-Lloyd)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - People across the Palmetto State, like many around the nation, continue to buy specific items from grocery stores and retailers in bulk as the coronavirus pandemic has many concerned.

The result creates a shortage of a few particular products.

Joe Gorchow toured the Midlands to see what items are in high demand, and how local stores are addressing the panic buying during the coronavirus outbreak. He visited five major grocery chain stores and spoke with 14 Carrot Whole Foods store owner, Ed Elbrecht.

“Now, we do deal a lot with local suppliers,” Elbrecht said. “Which I think is a big advantage for us right now. Those local suppliers don’t supply that many different stores. We stand a much better chance of getting what we need.”

The good news is there is no food shortage.

However, certain items were missing from the shelves or very limited in supply. Photos sent to WIS illustrate panic buying around the Midlands. At various store locations, there were empty shelves.

In a statement, officials with Kroger told WIS: “Our most urgent mission is to be here for our customers when they need us most. And, our store, warehouse, distribution, food production, and office associates are working around the clock to keep stores open and product on the shelves.”

Items most in demand at Kroger stores are cold and flu products. Also in high demand are sanitary products, bread, milk, ground turkey and beef, as well as water.

Additionally, Kroger said, "We want to emphasize the supply chain is strong and has not been interrupted. Customers should not panic. We are working hard to replenish shelves as quickly as possible to ensure that the food, medicine, and cleaning supplies our customers need are reaching our stores as quickly as possible and are available through our pickup, delivery, and ship services."

A spokesperson from Publix conveyed a similar message:

"Our warehousing and distribution centers are working around the clock to receive product from our suppliers and to ship product to our stores. Last week alone, we delivered almost 12,000 truckloads to our stores. Our teams are diligently working to get our shelves restocked and conduct preventive cleaning measures to provide a safe and clean working and shopping experience.

Customers continue to buy in increased demands, and we’re asking customer to shop as they normally would. To assist in this ask, stores may also impose limits on items that are in high-demand."

For those needing employment during this difficult time, many grocery stores are hiring.

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Kroger states, “We are actively hiring to help keep our stores stocked with fresh, affordable food and essentials – and urge those in industries hard hit by COVID-19, such restaurants, hospitality, and travel, to apply for open positions.”

Kroger, Publix, and 14 Carrot Whole Foods told WIS they are sanitizing items such as baskets, cart handles and pin pads at the register after each use.

The overall message -- stay calm, don’t panic and don’t overbuy as stores around the area work to restock the shelves.

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