Retailers brace for panic buyers this pandemic Thanksgiving

With a curfew set to go into effect in California this weekend, grocery stores are anticipating the run on toilet paper and other paper goods will likely get worse.

Outside a Costco in San Jose on Thursday, the sign said several items are out of stock including Clorox Wipes, Lysol, toilet paper, plastic wrap, paper towels and of all things Spam. Water is also running low.

“When we went back there it was completely empty,” said Shanti Uribe of San Jose. “There was nothing there. We couldn't grab anything. It was just frustrating.”

“We’ve gone to purple right and everyone is worried about lockdown,” said Aaron Aceves of San Jose.

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As Covid-19 cases spike, some supplies have been gone for days now. It’s expected not to get better anytime soon especially with a month-long stay at home order.

“I think if the majority of everyone stays calm, we are going to get through this,” said Khadija Zanotto of Zanotto’s Markets.

Family-owned Zanotto's heard rumblings of a curfew and stocked up well ahead of time, especially with Thanksgiving.

“To add more stress onto our stores in a sense of sales is like how can we plan and make sure that we get through this,” said Zanotto.

The supermarket and big box chains are putting limits on items like toilet paper to one per family to prevent hoarding and reselling.

Zanotto’s learned a lot about supply and demand from the first time shoppers bought in bulk.

“It’s concerning,” said Robert Chapman Wood, professor of strategic management at San Jose State. “I don’t think there’s any danger of it being as radical as it in the Spring.”

Experts said this time around stores are more prepared and likely have contingency plans.

“People aren’t logical,” said Thomas Plante, professor of psychology at Santa Clara University. “They are psychological and they act on fear.”

Psychologists said pandemic buying is a coping mechanism during crisis. It’s a way for shoppers to take care of themselves and their families. They advise to let science take hold not angst and fear.

“The way to best prepare is to follow those good public health official guidelines of masks, social distancing, and washing hands and to be thoughtful about this,” said Plante.

Health officials said it will be a tough winter. Grocery stores stress there’s plenty of food in the supply chain. Zanotto's has increased staffing and is extending store hours this weekend.