Panic hoarding food and supplies by British and American shoppers has surged in recent weeks, as social distancing policies enforced by their respected governments to flatten the curve to slowdown infections are leading to mass quarantines.
Consumers are stocking up on food and supplies, as they have no idea when the quarantines will end. They see the fast-spreading virus leading to increased cases and deaths, and this has triggered fear about a pandemic, leading many to stockpile nonperishables, wiping store shelves clean, prompting supermarkets and pharmacies in both countries to impose buying-limits on goods.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no reason for consumers to stockpile supplies. It has become evident that rising cases and deaths in the UK has led to mass panic.
Supermarkets in the #SouthEast are struggling to keep up with the growing demand as customers stock up on essentials.— ITV News Meridian (@itvmeridian) March 17, 2020
Some of the shelves in this store in #Sevenoaks were left empty.
UK retailers are urging customers to be considerate and shop responsibly. pic.twitter.com/yEoSmYBZib
A source at the country's top supermarket told Reuters, "it's getting worse."
Sainsbury's, the second-largest chain of supermarkets in the UK, had to place restrictions on certain products to keep store shelves stocked. Tesco, another major supermarket in the country, told customers this week that they could only purchase two packs of dried pasta, toilet paper, and milk.
Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, and Lidl have all placed some form of buying restrictions on certain products while struggling to keep store shelves stocked.
On TV this morning they put their that there is no need to to panic and Rush out to buy toilet paper because it is made in the UK I have been to 7 local shopping stores and none of them have got any toilet paper as you can see this is my local store ASDA pic.twitter.com/z7CEAew7ws— John Payne (@JohnPay81177462) March 17, 2020
“We are currently facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainty dealing with COVID-19," Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson, and its CEO David Potts said.
The same panic has swept across the Atlantic into the US for about a month. Supermarkets and pharmacies from coast to coast have placed purchase restrictions on water, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, medicine, and masks.
We've documented the mayhem that has unfolded at Costco stores over the last three weekends. Now the panic hoarding has gravitated to weekdays, outlining how the crisis is worsening. Social distancing policies in the US could soon limit how many customers are in stores, which could create massive lines that would take hours before one stepped into a store. Many are worried that several states closing down restaurants and bars could lead to Italy-style shutdowns in New York, California, and Washington.
This is two seperate incidents.— Evelyn pavane (@EvelynPavane) March 13, 2020
The first one ended in a knife fight while the second was about carts touching.
The fact it happened in Costco and Sam's Club is no shock..
It's like Walmart on black Friday.
It's ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/bUXR0Ivu9A
NJ.com says grocery stores across New Jersey have seen store shelves stripped bare. Cleaning supplies, over-the-counter medicines, toilet paper, water, and other critical products for survival have been limited per customer.
Aldi CEO Jason Hart announced over the weekend that limits would be placed on certain products across the US. Hart said stores would see a reduction of operating hours "to accommodate restocking and cleaning."
Costco has placed two purchase limits on toilet paper, reported AdAge. We've noted this on several occasions as social media users have posted pictures of the limitations.
Target announced last week that certain products would be limited per person though the limit could vary depending on the store.
Walgreens recently said that purchase limits had been enforced at all stores on certain products to "improve inventory and to help ensure products can be more widely available."
Walmart has announced per customer product limits, a reduction of operating hours, and closure of certain stores, along with specific shopping hours for the elderly.
Stop & Shop is another retailer that has reserved special shopping hours for the elderly. Anyone who is 60 and over can shop at any one of its stores in the Northeast between 6 am and 7:30 am, without worrying about the chaos from younger shoppers.
Whole Foods has placed buying restrictions on hand sanitizer, disinfectant, cleaning wipes, toilet paper, and water purchases.
We noted earlier this week that if panic continues in the UK, the odds of troops deployed to hospitals, supermarkets, and on streets, will dramatically increase in the weeks ahead.
So far, the Pentagon has mobilized 1,500 troops across the US to combat the virus. It's only a matter of time before troops could be deployed outside grocery and other big-box retailers to keep the peace as the virus crisis is expected to deepen in weeks ahead.