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How stores are keeping the shelves stocked during a pandemic

Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 17:54:14-04

LANCASTER, N.Y. (WKBW) — For the last week, we've seen bare shelves in retail stores. Restocking with supplies is a challenge. A local expert says it's a demand we've never seen before.

"This is a much bigger scale, very global, [stores] are feeling it very tangibly," said Professor Nallan Suresh, a UB Distinguished Professor in the School of Management.

On Tuesday morning around 10:30, 7 Eyewitness news went to a Tops Friendly Markets while employees re-stocked and customers were relieved.

"I mean you go to a store and I've never seen anything like it. On Saturday I was in Wegmans...and the shelves were empty," said Darlene Vogel of Lancaster.

The rush is on, but suppliers were caught off guard, at least for the short term. Professor Suresh says it's a distribution problem. There's plenty of food and supplies to spare, it's just a matter of getting it to the retail stores.

"Consumers, I don't think need [you] need to panic in terms of availability overall. So if some item is not available today, it might be available tomorrow," said Suresh.

Toilet paper and other paper products have really been flying off the shelves. Professor Suresh says it's because people are panic buying and that industry has been taken by surprise.

"I'm sure that's one more lesson they're going to learn going forward," said Professor Suresh.

Loading trucks typically come overnight, per Suresh, so he suggests you do your shopping when fewer people are around.