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Fears of panic buying set in as COVID-19 cases rise nationwide

Coronavirus

“Out of Stock” signs are seen inside a Waitrose supermarket on March 19, 2020, in Southampton, United Kingdom. After spates of “panic buying” cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side went inside local grocery stories to check out store shelves as people fear some products could disappear as COVID-19 cases go up nationwide.

From Walmart to Publix to Target, most had items in stock, but not fully stocked.

“I don’t feel the need to hoard. I don’t know if everyone else is going to follow by that. To me, I think that is fair,” said Tampa shopper Jonathan Landers.

Landers said he isn’t concerned about a second wave of panic buying.

“I think it left a lot of people afraid they were going to be left out, and it snowballed that way,” he said.

Shopper Joe Sasso thinks we might see a repeat.

“I think we’ll probably see some of that,” he said. “It’s the reaction to the crisis.”

The crisis has gone on for months, and now, as cases surge, concern is growing as well and retailers are getting ready.

Target sent the following statement to 8 On Your Side:

Throughout the pandemic, Target has focused on getting our guests the essentials they need at an everyday low price. Our teams have quickly adjusted to changes in consumer demand, like the surge we saw this spring and the rapid shift to contactless shopping options we experienced throughout the summer and fall. To ensure as many guests as possible can find the items they need, we’ve taken measures such as:

Coordinating stores, distribution centers and suppliers so that the things our guests need most —cleaning supplies, food, over-the-counter medicine and baby products—are fast-tracked through the supply chain and prioritized for re-stocking.

Sending more inventory to stores than ever before to ensure Target has the most in-demand items this holiday season.

Placing limits on products like toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, flushable wipes, hand & face wipes, multi-purpose spray cleaner, gloves and more. We’ll adjust limits as needed, and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly, so more families can find the products they need.

A Publix spokeswoman emailed 8 On Your Side:

We continue to take actions across our operations to help safeguard the health and well-being of our customers, associates and communities. We will continue to provide friendly social distancing reminders in our stores, through signage, floor markers at checkout and other queuing areas, as well as through our public address announcements. Week before last, we implemented customer purchase limits on paper towels and bath tissue due to much higher customer demand, and we, like all other retailers, are on allocation from our suppliers. We continue to monitor other categories and adjust as necessary. As an aside, stores reserve the right to limit quantities as well to best serve their customers.

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