Last year, going to the grocery store was a bit of a gamble. The pandemic had pushed some people into panic-buying, leaving many essential items missing from store shelves. But while it seemed for a moment that those stockpiling days were coming to an end, the Delta variant has shoppers running to stores once again. In fact, one household essential item already appears to be disappearing from grocery store shelves. Read on to find out what you might not be able to find on your next shopping trip.
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People are stockpiling toilet paper again.
Toilet paper is once again becoming a hot commodity in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal. The news outlet shared data from market-research firm IRI, which showed that paper-product sales were 8 percent higher in the three weeks leading up to Aug. 22 this year compared to the same time period a year ago. Paper products, including toilet paper, were only 86 percent in stock as of Aug. 29, per the firm. While this is a lower in-stock rate than consumer products on average, the WSJ says it still is not as bad as it was at the height of last year’s toilet paper shortage, when paper products were only 40 percent in stock.
Shoppers say they’re not seeing toilet paper at certain stores.
Costco customers around the country have recently complained about a shortage of toilet paper at certain stores. “Costco was out of toilet paper today. It’s starting again….,” one Twitter user tweeted on Sept. 1. Another said, “Just at Costco, they’re completely out of toilet paper. Why are we doing this again? I don’t want to do this again.”
Other customers say that their stores have even started placing purchasing limits back on this item and other household essentials. Costco has not specified any restrictions on toilet paper, but the Costco site now says, “Some warehouses may have temporary item limits on select items.”
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Retailers say it’s becoming hard to keep toilet paper in stock.
Many retailers say that while shortages have improved since 2020, they are still struggling to get a full variety of sizes and brands of toilet paper, the WSJ reports. Some say they have been receiving incomplete order shipments over the last month, like Massachusetts-based grocery chain Roche Bros. Inc.
“I don’t think we fully recovered from when the supply chain got a massive hit,” Arthur Ackles, vice president of merchandising and buying for Roche Bros., told the newspaper. According to IRI, roughly 11 percent of store items remain out of stock in the U.S., which is down from 13 percent in March 2020 but still much higher compared to the normal pre-pandemic range of 5 to 7 percent.
Food City, which is a grocery chain located in the Southern U.S., told the WSJ that it has even been carrying toilet paper from smaller suppliers just to keep the product in stock. “We fill them with whatever we’ve got,” Steve Smith, the chain’s chief executive, told the news outlet.
Manufacturers also say they’re trying to ramp up production.
Toilet paper manufacturers are working to meet this new increased demand and mitigate supply chain issues. Procter & Gamble Co., the biggest manufacturer of toilet paper in the U.S., told the WSJ it is ramping up production, while a spokesperson for Charmin toilet paper said it is speeding up product lines, running factories 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and investing to increase shipping volumes.
Kimberly-Clark, which makes Cottonelle and Scott toilet paper, told USA Today that it “is monitoring the situation closely, and working hard to produce more toilet paper and other essential paper products to best meet consumer needs.” The company added, “We remain vigilant with consumer demand and will continue to produce and ship as much product out to retailers as possible.”
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