Supply chain expert warns panic-buying might start again as COVID-19 cases rise

Supply chain expert says people may begin panic-buying again

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — If you dreaded those long lines and empty shelves at grocery stores in the spring, a supply chain expert warns we may see something similar again.

“As COVID-19 cases start to rise, you’re going to see some panic buying,” said Wendy White, a food safety manager with Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “Right now, the food supply chain is secure and we’ve only seen sporadic shortages this fall. As people start to get nervous as cases start to go up, people will change their buying patterns and you’re going to see inevitable shortages because of that.”

[SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia]

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Earlier this month, grocery stores, including Publix and Kroger, reinstated buying limits on toilet paper and paper towels.

On Monday, Channel 2′s Chris Jose noticed empty shelves at some metro Atlanta supermarkets. There are signs posted that say “limit two” cleaning wipes at a Cobb County Walmart.

Jose met a shopper who bought extra supplies.

“Paper goods and coffee. I was afraid there may be a shortage coming in the near future,” said Bruce Liberman. “I’d rather go ahead and get it now than try to get it online when it might not be available.”

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Over the weekend, Walmart resumed counting the number of customers entering its stores to ensure it doesn’t exceed 20% capacity limits.

“Walmart and other retailers, they’re putting in place safety measures just to keep their customers safe, keep their workforce safe which is a really good idea, but unfortunately it might cause some nervousness with the public as they start seeing lines form out the door,” said White.