In nature, many animals spend the fall marshalling the resources they’ll need to make it through a long, cold winter. While the comforts of modern life have insulated most of humanity from those sorts of seasonal concerns, it seems like the challenges of a pandemic could lead us to stockpile supplies for the winter in ways we haven’t seen before.
That’s why grocery stores and supermarkets have already kicked into overdrive to ensure they’ve got enough essential goods to handle any expected demand surge as Covid-19 cases potentially kick back into high gear. Whereas most food sellers would normally hold onto a few weeks’ worth of supplies for key products, they’re now thinking months ahead.
That’s especially true of key cleaning and sanitizing products. The Wall Street Journal reports that businesses like Associated Food Stores are already putting together “pandemic pallets” in their warehouses to prevent the kind of shortages that defined March and April.
Though these food sellers are certainly more prepared of the possibility of pandemic-induced panic shopping than they were in early March, the potential collision of a dreaded “second wave” with the holiday season could exacerbate these challenges. The period from Thanksgiving to Christmas is already a busy time for grocers, and layering in an extra, potentially significant demand shift has inspired some retailers to plan ahead in ways they normally wouldn’t.
For example, the Journal notes that Giant and Food Lion parent company Ahold Delhaize is holding already has its holiday inventory tucked away, also holding onto 10% to 15% more product than it would under normal circumstances. Similarly, grocery wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc already has tons of tea, cold remedies, and cranberry sauce on hand in an effort to get out in front of any supply issues as the season gets closer.
“We started talking about Thanksgiving in June,” company president Chris Testa told the Journal. “That’s earlier than we ever have.”
There’s no telling what could happen between now and the holidays, but the hope is that grocers will be ready for it. As we’ve already seen, supply chains could face some serious issues or supply-demand imbalances— especially if restaurants are forced to scale back operations once again. If you do your part and don’t buy up a whole store’s worth of Clorox and toilet paper yourself, we should probably be ok.
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