Grocery stores brace for another toilet paper, cleaning supplies shortage

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 11:27 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As the number of COVID-19 cases surge nationwide, grocery stores in Greenville are preparing for another wave of shortages of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and paper towels.

Customers who already noticed empty shelves at other chains were shopping at the Piggly Wiggly on Wednesday.

Although the shortage is not as frantic as it was at the beginning of the pandemic, Greenville resident Gloria Brown said she can see certain supplies running out.

“Canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels, meats, so it’s already started,” Brown said. “It was worse to me before than it is right now, but you can still tell that the shortages are going on, compared to, Saturday. When I was here, I see a little bit more room on the shelves and there’s nothing there.”

It took Brown and her granddaughter three trips to find toilet paper in the city.

With a pack of 6 toilet paper rolls in hand, Brown’s granddaughter felt relieved.

“Good, we’ll be good for a little bit until we got to find more, so.”

Grocery stores capped customer purchases again.

Target is limiting customer purchases on disinfecting sprays, paper towels, hand and face wipes and multi-purpose spray cleaner to one per guest, while Publix customers are limited to two of each item.

Shelves in the paper goods aisle were nearly empty at Target, Publix and Walmart but there were individual paper towel rolls and some bundles of toilet paper in stock.

Shontae Brock, a mother of four, said it’s important to stock up on essential items beforehand, knowing how finding things last minute would be difficult.

“You know, if you don’t have no sanitizer you can’t do anything,” Brock said. “They say that you have to continue to keep sanitizing your house. We need those things, and not only that – it’s like they’re focusing more on that and they wasn’t focusing on the food part, cause we were home, more than anything.”

Piggly Wiggly manager Donnie Sumerlin said his team has been preparing for this.

“Our paper situation is a lot better,” Sumerlin said. “It’s not as it was and I think people have been through it the first time and I think the buying’s gonna be a little different this time because there was a lot of panic-buying before and I’m not seeing that this time, so I’m really hoping that we’ll be normal-buying, but still good normal-buying, a lot of normal-buying but not panic-buying.”

After experiencing shortages, Sumerlin said he’s confident this holiday season, as long as shoppers stay calm.

“Buy what you need,” Sumerlin said. “And you know, buy extra, but just don’t do the panic-buying where other customers don’t have because we want to have enough for everybody to have what they need.”

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