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Grocery stores to implement product limits as new buying patterns emerge amid pandemic surge


ArtMarie/iStockBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — As COVID-19 infections increase in the U.S. experts predict that shoppers will start to stock up on a variety of products that could prompt another round of shortages in stores in the coming months.

“We absolutely are starting to see shortages again,” Mike Brackett, founder and CEO of Centricity Incorporated, told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Earlier this year during the initial coronavirus outbreak, grocery stores placed product purchase limits on everything from toilet paper to disinfectant wipes after demand widely impacted supply chains.

On Monday, Kroger announced that it will limit purchases of toilet paper, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap to two per customer.

Another grocery store chain, H-E-B, announced purchasing limits in some stores on similar items, as well as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, first aid and cleaning gloves.

“We think that there’s going to be a lot of limits,” Brackett said of the early retail restrictions to “hopefully help mitigate” shortages and prevent “stockpiling that we saw before.”

Last week on a quarterly earnings call, Clorox announced that it is “still not at a point where we can fully meet ongoing elevated demand.”

The company whose popular products were wiped out due to high demand throughout the pandemic, predicted that the shortages will continue through the end of the year.

Ahead of the winter and holidays, experts have already seen high demand for different products than just those staple items.

“You have this perfect storm now where America’s supply chains are still recovering from the first wave of panic buying,” Brackett said. “And now you have the largest selling season of the entire year on top of that.”

While it’s unclear if they’ll see shortages, experts have seen a surge in holiday mainstays and nonperishable items like boxed stuffings and canned goods.

Another category that has seen a sales boom are spices, as more people continue to stay home and cook in their own kitchens.

“The spice category has absolutely gone through the roof. So we believe that during this pandemic, there’s been a totally different buying pattern and [a] generation that started to cook a lot more than they used to due to necessity,” Brackett explained.

Experts said it’s important to focus on nonperishables and frozen items, without panic buying, that will last through the holidays.

Since retailers have prepared this time around, staple items in high demand should be more available during this coronavirus surge.

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