Supermarket shelves are slowly, but steadily being restocked with cleaning supplies and even toilet tissue as the pressure on supply chains has been lessened as the region begins recovering from the first novel coronavirus (COVID-19) wave.
When the COVID-19 crisis first made its way stateside, customers flocked to supermarkets and stripped shelves clean of many popular products, leaving stores scrambling to keep up with the demand.
Nationally, year-to-year through Saturday, April 25, the sales of cleaning supplies were up more than 45 percent, according to Nielsen data. That included gains of more than 245 percent for aerosol disinfectants, 229 percent for hand sanitizer, and 145 percent for multi-purpose cleaning wipes.
Bath tissue and paper towel sales also saw a dramatic spike in demand once the pandemic hit.
In response, retailers were forced to get creative, with some expanding product sourcing, instituting policies to limit the sale of highly sought after items, and taking measures to restock shelves as quickly as possible to meet demand, which has been easing.
“We are working to replenish those items quickly, including diverting products to areas of the country where they are needed most and routing deliveries directly to stores,” said Delia Garcia, senior director of communications at Walmart said to Supermarket News.
Ben Postma, director of center store merchandising for SpartanNash, which operates retail stores in nine states and distributes to independent retailers in all 50 states, said most suppliers depleted their surplus “safety stock” of inventory during the initial wave of increased demand in March.
Most of the company’s cleaning and paper suppliers began running production at their facilities around the clock, and some added new co-packers or rented production locations to increase their supply.
“Most of them have now moved to a simplified portfolio of items, focused on their top sellers covering each segment of the business,” Postma said. “Others put weekly allocations into place to ensure all of their distribution partners receive a fair share of the overall inventory.”
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