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State of the stores: November 2020


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Our online grocery order had a lot of items missing including produce, so Dh and I headed out to the stores last night. It felt like February all over again. Costco has no toilet paper or paper towels. Target was similarly wiped out of paper products and cleaning supplies. The regional grocery chain was low or out of some items—-below summer levels, but better than spring. 
 

What do things look like around you? I find it crazy that I can buy liquor flavored chocolates with whiskey from around the world at Costco, but not toilet paper. I never around about this in dystopian novels!! 😂

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If possible (access and storage) I'd encourage all to think about local sourcing their meat. With the beef packers in the US being monopolies, the famer/rancher is getting very little for his/her prod

Because I was just posting here and a son that works at a grocery store just texted me - I asked him, he asked his manager - His manager says it depends on what it is but mostly no matter the lab

Liquor flavored chocolates with whiskey from around the world, you say?!?  Who needs groceries?!?! 🤣 Our stores are similar.  No paper towels, spotty on other items.  There are limits on items ag

I have been having trouble getting cleaning supplies for months, it hasn't improved.  The last couple weeks I have been having a hard time getting my brand of lactose free milk.

Yesterday, my Walmart pickup was only short garbage bags in the size I wanted, so I had to get two smaller packages instead.

I haven't been in a grocery store in months, so I don't know how the shelves are looking in person.

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7 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Our online grocery order had a lot of items missing including produce, so Dh and I headed out to the stores last night. It felt like February all over again. Costco has no toilet paper or paper towels. Target was similarly wiped out of paper products and cleaning supplies. The regional grocery chain was low or out of some items—-below summer levels, but better than spring. 
 

What do things look like around you? I find it crazy that I can buy liquor flavored chocolates with whiskey from around the world at Costco, but not toilet paper. I never around about this in dystopian novels!! 😂

Liquor flavored chocolates with whiskey from around the world, you say?!?  Who needs groceries?!?! 🤣

Our stores are similar.  No paper towels, spotty on other items.  There are limits on items again.

 

 

 

 

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I was at Walmart around 9:00 Sunday morning and it was much busier than normal. Some of it was people getting the leftover Halloween candy on sale, but most of it seemed to be grocery shoppers. But they had everything I needed. I did notice they were extremely low on all purpose cleaners, and there were no Lysol/Clorox/store brand wipes at all. The wipe situation has never gotten anywhere close to normal since March, although more often than not in the past couple of months there have been a few containers that time of the morning. Sunday it was all empty shelves.

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I ordered Kirkland brand tp and paper towels from Costco this morning.  Worth the extra $3 delivery fee for each item to make sure I got it -- LOL.

Did a pickup at our local grocery store yesterday, didn't receive half my items.  First time that has happened since I started curbside pickup with them in August - I normally get most everything I order from them.  The guy loading my car said the shelves are looking a bit bare again.  He thought it was because of people prepping for holiday meals.  I'm like, "I don't think so."  

ETA:  I went to the ABC store yesterday at 2 pm to pick up some Kahlua.  I don't usually frequent the ABC store so I'm not sure what is normal, but it was super busy.  No line, but when 1 person was coming out, pretty much another person was going in.  A dad even took his infant in a stroller into the store.   And...a man walked past him out the door with his mask down.  My family is overly cautious, and know that others aren't, but I'm like really?!?!?  

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I think there must be either a continued staffing problem or store-specific distribution issues, because I am finding that Meijer is consistently struggling to stock things while Kroger is not.  Aldi has been pretty much okay but have recently started putting limits on canned goods.

The Costco near me hasn't had paper towels in about three weeks (other than the kind that go in dispensers).  I ended up ordering some online. I hope they come. Meijer was out of towels, and Kroger had limited stock, but they were pricey.

Overall I would say I am frustrated with how hard it has been to find some items at Meijer.  If it is on sale, I can almost guarantee they won't have it.  It's one of the little things about the pandemic that frustrates me a lot. I get not finding wipes, but chicken? Spaghetti sauce? Soy sauce?  Multi-vitamins? Their stocking (or ordering?) is just not keeping up.  First world problems, right??

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2 minutes ago, mlktwins said:

he guy loading my car said the shelves are looking a bit bare again.  He thought it was because of people prepping for holiday meals.  I'm like, "I don't think so."  

 

Right? They don't even have turkeys out yet at Kroger or Meijer!

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Does anyone know why canned diced tomatoes are hard to come by? Aldi has been out for months and Walmart had just a handful (or two) of Red Gold last time I was there. All other brands were gone.

ETA: Aldi never has gotten beer-battered fish or pork egg rolls back in stock since the pandemic began. And, I can just now find their black bean corn salsa again...sometimes.

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Idk why some things are so hard to get at Walmart but no problem at Costco. I’ve also noticed a change in what’s a available at Aldi too.

I mean it’s reached a point where if I see dill whole baby pickles - I buy like 2-4 bc who knows when we will get pickles again.  What is up with that?

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Because I was just posting here and a son that works at a grocery store just texted me - I asked him, he asked his manager -

His manager says it depends on what it is but mostly no matter the label, the majority of this stuff comes from one, maybe two or three tops, production plants or distribution centers. And many of both of those are working at severely reduced staffing due to Covid.  It’s not that there’s a shortage of product. It’s that there is a shortage of trained healthy people to get it to shelves. 

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I did my shopping yesterday.  The store was reasonably well-stocked.   I was able to get almost everything on my list.   

In addition to Murphy101's comment above regarding staffing shortages, some companies have reduced the number of varieties of their products being produced.  Frito-Lay for example, is not producing as many varieties of dips as pre-COVID.  Ds's favorite is among those dropped.  

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We were out of milk and bread so I put in an online order for those and other things at same time. It was patchy, but not more so than all summer (unless it turns out more runs out before arrival time).  Things like exact bread son wanted not available but another semi acceptable was. Lactose free milk that I wanted and cheese limited to 1 or 2 per person. No grapefruit that I wanted, but another option was...  My preferred back up if Fuji apples were out apparently not available. ...

 

3 Seconds after or 30 minutes after?   Some title like that about life after a electronic pulse ?  (Can’t recall details), I think did more realistically deal with outages of everything ...  but still TP maybe not high on list 😄

 

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I went to Kroger this morning.  I was surprised to find the fresh meats, especially beef, were nearly out of stock. I barely glanced at the TP, paper towel row, but it wasn’t wiped out.  There wasn’t as much milk as usual either.  Most things were stocked to the usual levels of the last few months.

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I was at Trader Joe's and Target yesterday, and Whole Foods on Friday, and they all seemed fully stocked for food, including meat, milk, and eggs. (I didn't look for canned tomatoes, though.) Target also had tons of toilet paper and paper towels, with no limit on purchases. No Clorox/Lysol brand wipes, but several shelves full of another brand of disinfectant wipes with bleach, and also plenty of sanitizer, including giant refill bottles. No limits on either of those. I grabbed a couple tubs of wipes and a mega pack of TP, but reading this thread prompted me to actually inventory the paper products I have stashed all over the house. Apparently what I thought was a stash of paper towels in the garage is actually TP, so I have like a year's worth of TP but only one pack of paper towels. 🤦‍♀️ Guess I need to make another trip to Target.  I should probably also send a delivery of TP/PT to DS, since his area may be more likely to have shortages than here.

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I went to our regional chain at the end of last week and it was fine.  It was a tad busier than usual, but I was there at a different time that I usually am so it could be normal.  We've been mostly fully stocked for months, with occasional missing items (brand-specific - like, they have plenty of chips, but not Simply Ruffles, or are out of my kid's favorite Double Noodle soup but have 43 other kinds).  There were spaces on the toilet paper aisle (as in, it wasn't crammed like it would normally have been a year ago) but there were plenty of packages of all sizes in several brands.  

One thing that has been weird about...well, everything...is that the differences are so regional.  I think that in our area a lot more people have freezers of homegrown stuff, buy local meat, have a grandma who cans green beans, etc, so even though a most people buy groceries at the store there are a lot fewer who are entirely dependent on grocery stores.  And, we have a couple of regional dairy producers who are only an hour away.  The biggest thing that we've noticed locally is that when we call our usual beef and pork producers farmers they are no longer giving us pick-up dates based on when the animals will be ready - it's when they can schedule with butchers.  A lot more people locally seem to be buying directly from small farmers, which helps the farmers and also the number of people who have always done this took pressure off the stores when things were hard to find.  The little shops that sell local meat still seem to be able to get some, though.  Actually, even in the rough stretch in the spring the smaller stores and regional chains, which had contacts with local growers, seemed to have food a lot faster, even if they didn't have everything.  

If it makes anybody feel better, in some parts of the country it has been a fantastic growing year - my freezer has never been this full - so at least some people may not be buying as much grocery as usual and there hopefully was an abundance for companies to can and freeze.  

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Last week my pickup order shopper had to downsize to a small pack of TP (she sent a photo of picked over aisle), and this week they didn't have it in any size. There was a long line to get in the store so I did not go in myself to double check. After I did my curbside pickup, I drove to another grocery store on the way home and went in and got their last large pack of TP (I think there are 18 rolls in the pack). 

I got a few other things while I was in the store, and saw lots of gaps. Pasta area is smaller than before, and picked over. The meat area was crowded but I was able to get some. It looks like spices haven't been restocked in awhile, but there was vanilla extract this time so I grabbed that. 

Overall I would say there is still plenty of food available, but maybe not exactly what you wanted to buy.

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All of the stores in our rural county are adequately stocked, I even noticed a big display of canned tomatoes and another of pumpkin at our save a lot. I am surprised by you all's shortages! The stores got caught up over the late spring and we haven't had any problems, even at the only walmart in a three county radius.

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There was 1 package of toilet paper left, most of the organic milk was gone, no organic coconut milk in cans, no milk powder. But, everything else was fine. I even got 4 containers of isopropyl alcohol for the first time since the pandemic. I have always used it to clean my granite countertops, which I stopped using because I wanted to save my stock for the pandemic. I even got larger sized spray bottles which were out of stock before. I am on the west coast, where the panic set in long time ago and those who had to hoard have long hoarded whatever they needed to hoard, I guess.

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The Tom Thumbs, Sam's Clubs, and Super Walmarts in my area look normal.  Plentiful meat, produce, bread, eggs, cheese, milk, and canned soups and veg.  Thanksgiving turkeys have begun to arrive!  I always check for Lysol or Clorox wipes, not that I use them much, but because I wonder whether they'll ever come back.  There are lots of other cleaning supplies and plenty of paper products and soap on the shelves, at least from what I've seen.

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7 minutes ago, DoraBora said:

The Tom Thumbs, Sam's Clubs, and Super Walmarts in my area look normal.  Plentiful meat, produce, bread, eggs, cheese, milk, and canned soups and veg.  Thanksgiving turkeys have begun to arrive!  I always check for Lysol or Clorox wipes, not that I use them much, but because I wonder whether they'll ever come back.  There are lots of other cleaning supplies and plenty of paper products and soap on the shelves, at least from what I've seen.

I have seen some off brand disinfectant wipes lately. 

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21 minutes ago, mommyoffive said:

It would be interesting to hear if you store has shortages or is stocked and what covid numbers and positivity rates are.  

We got everything in our pickup order.  Even toilet paper. 

Oklahoma’s Covid hospitalization numbers are awful. Our hospitals are full and diverting to medical relief locations. I highly suspect the only reason we are not in lockdown is because the Republicans in office have largely claimed there is no need to even have a mask mandate and can’t exactly say that while instituting a lockdown. I know for a fact the dept of health directors here are beyond frustrated and worried bc they have openly and publicly on live TV expressed that sentiment as our hospitals gets worse every week.

But I have had no problems grocery shopping since March/April when things were scarce. Not yet anyways and hope I don’t.🙏🤞

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In our county, we have 50-200 cases/day (usually around 100-125), positivity between 5 and 15%, usually around 10...and the number have looked exactly like this for at least 3-4 months.  Most things are open and people pretty much wear a mask as needed and go about their business.  In a sense, I don't know that it matters exactly what the specific numbers are - if they are constant and not particularly increasing, that becomes normal and doesn't prompt panic or runs on the store.  

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I haven’t found that there is a lack of any particular product where I live, but there are still issues with specific brands, sizes of some products such as paper goods and cleaning product. However, there is enough as long as you are not tied to a set brand.

In fact, I was at a Lowe’s home improvement store on Monday and they had tons of toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning products on clearance, butte products were all commercial sizes and brands - no Lysol, Clorox, or Charmin.

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Even though most of us think of the end user-consumer as being a product's customer, many manufacturer's customers are the stores that sell their products.  One of my kids works in "customer service" processing orders to go through logistics and shipping at a small-to-moderately-sized company whose customers include the big chain and regional grocery stores we all shop at.  Surprisingly, this is a very specialized and technical job that requires a good deal of training.  She is the only person at her place of employment who can quickly schedule delivery of their products - it would require an old manager from a different branch to take over processing those orders if my kid were out sick.  Some of her other customer service co-workers handle orders for different countries or a different type of customer (ie. small stores vs big ones).  They try to cross-train, but during the busy-season they fall behind in their own area of specialty because they are short-staffed.  So that's one line of possible cuts in the supply.  So even if they have it in stock at the manufacturer, it's possible that there are problems in logistics and shipping.

And then there are the problems with shortages of supplies for manufacturing that lead to product delays and backorders, and how the backorder is handled is different for each customer: sometimes all of the product is sent to the most high-volume customer due to contracted-fines for late product, sometimes it is split among a bunch of smaller-volume customers who end up with partial orders.  Either way, if there is a lack of product, someone somewhere is not going to find it in the store.

Northern NH used to be full of paper-mills, but they've all closed in the past 20 years and the large machinery was shipped off to Germany, Japan, and China. 

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Everything was fine here last week, but that was end of the month. I shop again today so I will check. I imagine that beginning of the month, election/unrest fears, and Covid may all be having some impact in some areas. Two of those I expect to taper off in the next couple of weeks!

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17 hours ago, saraha said:

All of the stores in our rural county are adequately stocked, I even noticed a big display of canned tomatoes and another of pumpkin at our save a lot. I am surprised by you all's shortages! The stores got caught up over the late spring and we haven't had any problems, even at the only walmart in a three county radius.

Same here. I doubt it is supply. I think it is probably demand.

 

For those who are seeing shortages, are you in areas that are worried about civil unrest or covid surges?  People may have just stocked up.

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I am late chiming back in, but my online order was from Wal-mart. I generally don't support them, but they have national supply chain lines that tend to be stronger than our regional grocery store's.  I asked during my pickup what the problem was.  They were low on people to push product out from the back.  The store isn't staffing them enough to resupply the shelves as quickly as they need to.

Our 7 day case incidence rate is 42/100,000 people.....actually really low.  I'm also not worried about civil unrest.  People may have stocked up, just to stock up, but I haven't seen massively packed carts like I did this spring.  I'm seeing really normal shopping patterns....just low inventory.

I don't know about the quality of this article or study, but stories like this are hitting the media again: https://www.eatthis.com/paper-towel-shortage/ https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/13/business/paper-towel-shortage/index.html

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Paper towels were the only thing that looked low. Bare shelves did make the news here. It could be a lot of things. Transitioning from Halloween to Christmas, people stocking up for the winter, news articles about bare shelves.....

I was able to find some sponges for my dish wand which they have been out of for whatever reason. We had clorox and purell wipes on the shelves last week. My store is far out of town and we didn’t get nearly as wiped out as the center of town.  

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22 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

Because I was just posting here and a son that works at a grocery store just texted me - I asked him, he asked his manager -

His manager says it depends on what it is but mostly no matter the label, the majority of this stuff comes from one, maybe two or three tops, production plants or distribution centers. And many of both of those are working at severely reduced staffing due to Covid.  It’s not that there’s a shortage of product. It’s that there is a shortage of trained healthy people to get it to shelves. 

I missed this. I guess that makes sense. It is strange that stores are so different across the country. I went to both Kroger and Costco on Friday and everything looked completely normal. Actually, one brand was out of the biggest bulk package of TP but all the other TP shelves seemed completely stocked.

 

I was thinking people were stocking up so they wouldn't have to shop if there were riots or something. 

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Winco was fine today--typical experience for the pandemic era. Plenty of food, most things in stock, but probably out of something on your list! I marveled at the paper towel display on the entrance aisle. And the pasta aisle looked full, and Barilla was on sale for a good price. But then when I looked close for Rotini, they didn't have that one. Didn't have Adams peanut butter in the larger size but still had a few jars of the smaller size. Forgot to check tp aisle.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was at Sam's club yesterday afternoon and got caught in a tp/paper towel run.  Forklifts bringing pallets out from the back and people crowding the aisles to get it.  I was only nearby because I needed some chicken patties for sandwiches.   Lots of people wheeling out carts with 4 big packs of tp and paper towels.  I went out to the parking lot and ordered some from Walmart online, just in case 🙂

 

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