Stores experiencing second wave of panic buying

It is a flashback to the start of the pandemic – empty aisles.

With the mix of Thanksgiving shoppers and COVID -19 cases surging, grocery carts are once again - overflowing.

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Beth Goldberg, Safeway’s Senior Manager, Community Public Affairs, said there have been challenges in certain product categories.

“We are limiting certain items. Paper towels and toilet paper right now, we’re asking customers to limit their purchase to one package per customer,” said Goldberg.

Shoppers are calling it some unwanted déjà vu with the lack of paper towels and toilet paper.

“We heard things were ramping up with the COVID so we figured before it’s all gone again, at least grab another, an extra roll to have something spare at the house,” said Brandon Jackson, Safeway Shopper. “Don’t buy too much, get a spare, but don’t get twenty spares haha,” said Jackson.

FOX 5 drove to different spots in Northern Virginia to see what was in stock and how the stores are handling the rush. The supply of items were low at Target and Walmart, but Giant had full shelves.

Safeway shopper Chris Stout is asking customers to be considerate during this time.

“Don’t panic buy. I just got enough for what we needed, but I can see how you think everyone’s going to buy out of all the carrots or potatoes or something, but I think they definitely stocked up, there’s an entire potatoes section because I think they anticipated everyone trying to buy everything,” said Stout.

Safeway said they learned from pandemic’s early days of panic buying and hoarding.

“Oh my gosh, Safeway has been stocking up. Our team prepares for weeks and weeks ahead of time to make sure that our customers have,” said Goldberg. “Everything that one could need to have a nice Thanksgiving this year,” said Goldberg.

While there is a lot of uncertainty right now and the urge to panic buy may creep in, stores said there is no need.

Some retailers like Safeway are being sent large supplies so they can continuously stock.

FOX 5’s Sierra Fox interviewed psychotherapist, Dr. Anita Gadhia-Smith, who said panic buying is the result of fear and anxiety.

“When people are anxious, feel out of control, or have a sense of powerlessness, they can use shopping and storing up extra goods as a way to soothe themselves and alleviate their fears,” said Smith.

The big question is – why is the toilet paper and paper towels flying off the shelves?

“These are items that everyone needs to use multiple times a day. They require manufacturing, and can be easily compromised in the supply chain. In addition, there has been a great deal of news media about scarcity of these items, which further feeds the anxiety,” said Smith.