New grocery store limits on certain products as demand spikes set in with pandemic surge
With COVID-19 infections on the rise in the US, experts believe shoppers will stock up on a variety of products that could lead to another round of product limits in the coming months to avoid mass bottlenecks in stores.
"We are absolutely seeing bottlenecks again," said Mike Brackett, founder and CEO of Centricity Incorporated, to Good Morning America.
Patrick Penfield, a professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University, said that "the main culprits still emerge - the disinfectant wipes, the paper towels, the toilet paper."
Earlier this year, during the first coronavirus outbreak, grocery stores put product purchase restrictions on items like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes after demand heavily impacted supply chains.
PHOTO: A sign indicates paper towel purchases are limited at a Target store on November 10, 2020 in Sheridan, Colorado (David Zalubowski / AP).
Kroger announced last week that it would limit purchases of toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant wipes and hand soap to two per customer.
Kroger told Good Morning America in a statement that "proactive and temporary purchase limits have been set at two per customer on certain products" to "ensure that all customers have access to what they need".
Another grocery chain, H-E-B, announced restrictions on purchases of similar items, as well as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, first aid and cleaning gloves in some stores.
PHOTO: A customer wearing a mask carries his purchases as he leaves a target store during the coronavirus pandemic in Brooklyn, New York on April 6, 2020. (Mark Lennihan / AP, FILE)
Other retailers that have implemented similar policies are Publix and Target.
"We believe there will be many limits," Brackett said of the early retail restrictions to "hopefully help" alleviate bottlenecks and "prevent inventory that we saw before."
However, experts assured that this is unlike what consumers experienced during the first wave earlier this year.
Penfield told GMA that unfortunately it "could only be because people are hoarding" and reiterated that "we have plenty of food. So the food supply chain is intact."
"When people go to a grocery store, they buy in bulk, so they don't shop as often," he said.
MORE: How to Shop Safely During Coronavirus
On a quarterly earnings call, Clorox announced that it "is not yet at a point where we can fully meet continued increased demand".
The company, whose popular products were wiped out due to high demand during the pandemic, forecast the shortages will continue until the end of the year.
VIDEO: How Grocery Stores Are Responding to a Spike in COVID Cases (ABCNews.com)
Before winter and the holidays, experts have already noticed a high demand for products other than just these staple foods.
"You now have this perfect storm where American supply chains are still bouncing off the first wave of panic buying," Brackett said. "And now you have the biggest sales season of the year."
While it's unclear whether there will be shortages, experts have also noted an increase in the mainstays of vacation and non-perishable items such as packaging and canned food.
Another category that has seen a sales boom is condiments as more people stay at home and cook in their own kitchens.
"The seasoning category has absolutely prevailed. We believe that during this pandemic there was a completely different buying pattern and generation that started cooking much more than before because of the need," Brackett explained.
Experts said it was important to focus on non-perishable and frozen foods without panic buying that linger over the holidays.
With retailers preparing for it this time around, in-demand staples should be more readily available during this coronavirus surge.
An earlier version of this story was first published on November 10, 2020.
Goodmorningamerica.com originally set new restrictions on certain products in grocery stores, as the demand peaks that began with the rise in pandemic occurred
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