By Glenn Townes
As COVID-19 related deaths top 250,000 nationwide and the rate of infections near 12 million and the country stands at the precipitous of plunging into another shutdown, consumers—including many in New Jersey–are stockpiling and hoarding supplies as they did during the early stages of the pandemic earlier this year, according to a recent report.
Inmar, a North Carolina-based technology and data analytics company for retailers and manufacturers, said more than half (57 percent) of shoppers are replenishing and stockpiling goods now, similarly to when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, emptying store shelves of everyday products. Citing recent statistics and trends that clearly show the virus is in its second wave, consumers are once again clearing out grocery stores of essential items, the report indicated. Things such as toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectants, hygiene items, and other cleaning products are quickly vanishing from supermarket store shelves, and some grocers are prepping for an unpleasant repeat of history.
In a national survey of thousands of shoppers across the country, Inmar found that nearly one-third of consumers said they consider a winter stockpile of supplies because certain products may be unavailable. Another wave of COVID-19 would make in-store shopping unsafe and hazardous. The statistics echo the results of another survey conducted earlier this year. “The survey results indicate that a majority of shoppers are likely to make their way into grocery stores to stockpile goods,” said David Mounts, Chairman, and CEO at Inmar. He adds, “Today’s shoppers have concerns around safety, availability, and convenience and will continue to look to their local retailers to deliver consistency and seamless customer service across all touch points.”
To that end, some grocery store items can be magnets for the spread of germs. For example, a study earlier this year by the website insider.com found that about 75 percent of grocery store carts at more than 100 stores tested positive for bacteria. One of the worst places to find bacteria in a grocery store is on the freezer door handles. These have shown that refrigerator doors have more than 1,200 times more bacteria than a personal cell phone’s surface. To combat the problem, a solar energy equipment company has been successfully marketing a product to kill a wide range of bacteria including, MRSA, Staph, Listeria, Salmonella, and COVID-19. The product is called Focused Blue Light. It is being utilized by dozens of supermarkets across the country at check out counters, meat, produce, and deli departments.
Lastly, in New Jersey, some grocers remain vigilant and mindful about fighting the pandemic while providing protection and supplies to customers. While some rationing has not yet occurred at some smaller and mid-sized grocers, it could happen. “Right now, our supplies of products like paper towels, toilet paper, grocery, meat and dairy items are sufficient,” said Anthony Sanfilippo, the store director at McCaffrey’s Market in Princeton. The regional supermarket has two locations in New Jersey. Sanfilippo said hand sanitizers, wipes, and towels are located throughout the store for customers to
wipe down and cleanse shopping carts, items, and other surfaces. He added that face masks, gloves, and other protective gear is available to shoppers that request them. “We are carefully monitoring the status and trend of the virus and will make any adjustments or changes in our operations that we need to in an effort to keep our customers and employees safe,” he said.