Coronavirus Fears Wipe Out Area Retail Shelves

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Before entering area retailers, shoppers are cleaning their hands, shopping baskets and carts with sanitizing wipes as concerns over coronavirus increase.

And some of the shelves inside are just as cleaned out.

Shoppers are stocking up on bottled water, paper towels, cleaning supplies, bleach, toilet paper, canned goods and hand sanitizer – items that have become scarce as shelves are left bare in some stores. Stock clerks do what they can to refill the empty shelves with whatever inventory they have.

At one area Walmart, a clerk responds “I don’t have anything” to customers looking for hand sanitizer. They either leave in disbelief or with some hope that another store hasn’t been “hit too hard.” Employees advise some of them to “check back tonight,” or “come after March 14.”

Shoppers are trying to purchase enough supplies to last two weeks as a precaution, they say. Of all the items sought, canned goods and toilet paper are among the most popular. At another area Walmart, shelves in the grocery section were nearly picked clean of canned vegetables and soups. The next aisle over housed toilet paper, paper plates and plastic cups.

coronavirus – retail shopping

Shelves with paper products, household cleaners, canned goods and water are nearly picked clean at area retailers.

At least it did a few days ago.

The store’s greeter said the store recently ran out of bags for customers, and a new shipment wasn’t scheduled until 6 a.m. Thursday.

“It’s busy at night,” the greeter said. “Never as busy as it is during the day, but there’s always someone here.”

For Marc’s in Niles, the front of the store appeared unaffected. But heading into the back of the store, the shelves gradually became barren. The back corner that held two-gallon jugs of water and bulk water bottles was half full.

A short walk toward the checkout lanes had six empty shelves surrounded by household cleaning products. The shelves once held disinfectant wipes for $5.99.

“I don’t know why everybody waited so long,” a customer said as she walked past. Another chuckled as she walked past, saying she might sell the wipes she has at home.

Canned goods are still plentiful at Nemenz IGA in Struthers

The rush also struck the Target in Boardman. Again, water and paper products were thin. An empty endcap had a sign limiting purchases of disinfectants, hand sanitizers and hand and face wipes to six per customer.

The Nemenz IGA in Struthers was the exception. The grocery store went about business as usual. Some canned goods were filled to capacity. Employees were calm. Even some checkout lanes were closed. Aside from a few rolls of toilet paper and some disinfecting wipes being purchased, the store’s inventory was intact.

An employee said the store didn’t see an increase in customers. She didn’t even see carts filled with supplies. Customers merely conducted their typical shopping over the past couple days.

“Management was prepared,” the employee said. “It didn’t take long to restock.”

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March 12: Eastgate, Chambers of Commerce Cancel Annual Meetings
March 12: Business Begins to Feel Economic Toll from Virus
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March 11: Businesses, Organizations Report Virus Precautions, Event Cancellations
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March 10: DeWine Recommends Limiting Large Indoor Gatherings
March 10: YSU Extends Spring Break, Finalizing Plans for Alternative Instruction
March 10: Mercy Cancels Health Day Amid Ohio’s 1st Coronavirus Diagnoses

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.