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Are grocery stores prepared for another potential spike in coronavirus cases?

Posted at 8:46 AM, Oct 16, 2020

Things at grocery stores seem relatively calm now, in comparison to how it was back in March. Remember the toilet paper fiasco?

But as we hear talk about another wave of coronavirus infections, some are wondering if grocery supplies will take another hit.

We went to experts who track grocery data. They say what we saw earlier this year was historic.

“Those mid-March weeks were the largest we've seen in the history of grocery shopping. I don't expect to ever see big waves like that again,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, President of 210 Analytics.

People first stocked up on just cleaning items and then they started stocking up on all types of items, including pantry foods and that precious commodity – toilet paper.

Roerink says that while it is possible people will stockpile again later this year, toilet paper may not be on the list. Cleaning items may become hard to find again. The timing of all this really depends on the virus and how cases evolve.

“Should it come down to where the virus is big enough of a wave or we might go back down to a shelter in place, or where people feel more safe at home than they do out and about, I can see where our grocery spending will go back up,” said Roerink.

Earlier this year, holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day actually contributed to the clearing of grocery shelves. They’re typically holidays where we go out to eat, but that wasn't really an option in most places. So, people had to improvise.

“All of a sudden, retail had to absorb all those dollars to take care of mom and cook her a fun brunch or dinner, so we had an enormous peak again for Mother's Day and Father's Day,” said Roerink.

That means holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas could change how things work out at the grocery store as well.

Generally, supply and demand has started to normalize, but grocery sales are still about 10% higher than what they normally are. Though, prices could still change depending on the demand.