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Shoppers fear another COVID-19 pandemic paper product shortage

Industry experts urge people not to hoard supplies
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Posted at 5:11 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 18:14:59-05

STUART, Fla. — If you’ve been grocery shopping lately, you may have found some stores are sold out of paper products, including toilet paper or paper towels.

This comes as there are growing concerns nationwide over rising COVID-19 cases and fears of future lockdowns.

Some stores are going back to putting limits on how many packs of toilet paper, paper towels, and other items like cleansing wipes you can buy at a time.

Store managers say there is not necessarily a shortage of paper products, but people hoarding products tends to lead to bare shelves.

Now, stores like Publix are urging shoppers to be courteous and buy only what they need.

In a statement, Director of Communications for Publix, Maria Brous, told WPTV:

"Last week we implemented customer purchase limits on paper towels and bath tissue due to much higher customer demand, and we, like all other retailers, are on allocation from our suppliers. We continue to monitor other categories and adjust as necessary. As an aside, stores reserve the right to limit quantities as well to best serve their customers. In addition to the limits we have in place, we ask customers to shop only for the items they need. As we have continuously shared, the supply chain is resilient. We need to do our part and allow it an opportunity to rebound."

Target is also among the stores implementing purchase limits, stating on its website that "placing limits on products like toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, flushable wipes, hand & face wipes, multi-purpose spray cleaner, gloves and more. We’ll adjust limits as needed, and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly, so more families can find the products they need."

Shoppers at Winn-Dixie in Stuart noticed bare shelves Thursday.

“It was kind of shocking to see it again completely wiped out,” said Susan Osterberg.

Fearing it might soon be harder for stores to keep the products on shelves, Osterberg said she is picking up toilet paper wherever she can find it.

“[I got] a little bit at Walmart, what was left, which was next to nothing," Osterberg said "I was in Big Lots and I got a little bit there, but it’s wiped out."

But not all stores are experiencing shortages. Industry experts say compared to the supply issues experienced in the spring, stores are better prepared now to manage supplies to accommodate spikes in demand.

CVS in Stuart, for example, still had stocked shelves Thursday.

“I haven’t seen a problem or shortage in toilet paper yet,” said shopper Katherine Hardwick, among the many who are hopeful that will not change.