TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hand sanitizer, toilet paper and face masks are just some of the products that are now in short supply. COVID-19 concerns have now caused some consumers to stockpile items and empty shelves.  

University of South Florida Professor Dr. Donna Davis tells 8 On Your Side it could be a while before we see key items back in stores.  

“A lot of companies source their products out of China. So companies who depend on those supplies stockpiled inventory knowing they would be shut down for Chinese New Year. But then all of a sudden we started hearing about shutdowns because of quarantines because of the coronavirus,” said Davis. “So what companies in other countries had at that point…is whatever they had stockpiled.” 

According to the marketing and supply chain management professor, the coronavirus has disrupted factories in China that the U.S. depends on for certain goods like hygiene products and even electronics like iPhones.  

“We are already seeing the outages of certain things on the shelves at grocery stores and pharmacies like hand sanitizer. So, the problem on that end of the supply chain is consumer demand spikes,” she said.

According to Davis, some prices have increased because of the demand for certain goods. 

“Some of it is price gouging. Some of it is consumers buying a bunch and trying to resell it for a lot more. So I know that Amazon has already tried to shut down some of that. Online commerce platforms are trying to monitor that.”

So when will we see our favorite brands back on store shelves? Davis says consumers may be waiting several months as the global supply chain is restored.  

“It depends on the severity of the virus,” said Davis. “We expect the worst effects to come in the month of March and it will probably take several months after that. If there is a factory that has to shut down, it will talk awhile before they can get their supplies back on track.”