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Cornelius News

Grocers begin to limit some purchases

Photo by Dave Vieser

Nov. 19. By Dave Yochum. They’re baaack. Paper shortages, that is. The Associated Press is reporting that the new surge of coronavirus cases is sending people back to stores to stockpile, forcing some retailers to impose limits on bathroom tissue and paper towels.

Supplies are dwindling again this week at Harris Teeter and Publix. Stores like Publix and Kroger, parent of Harris-Teeter, are beginning to limit the number of high-demand products that one person can buy at a time.

Logic, or lack thereof

Bathroom tissue flows from paper mills to retail stores via an efficient supply chain. Since toilet paper is bulky and not very profitable, retailers don’t keep a lot of inventory on hand; they just get frequent shipments and restock their shelves.

Sales of toilet paper were up 845 percent in March, according to NCSolutions, which aggregates retail purchase data. Typically, toilet paper is between the 20th and 30th highest-selling product in US groceries and drug stores. On March 11 and 12, toilet paper was the No. 1 seller in overall dollars.

Stockpiling is a reaction to fear, not knowing what’s to come. In some cities, people are bracing for more restrictions, including curfews and lockdowns.

Demand bottomed out

Demand bottomed out over the summer after the first wave of bath tissue shortages this spring when some people began hoarding paper goods, cleaning products and hand sanitizer.

The Associated Press reported that Amazon is sold out of most disinfectant wipes and paper towels. The wire service reported that while supplies are stressed in some areas, stores are better equipped to work with manufacturers and suppliers to keep more items in stock.

Dave Yochum covers the bathroom tissue industry for Business Today and Cornelius Today