Empty shelves are back, but panic buying hasn’t reached levels seen early in pandemic: Expert

Local news

Videos of empty shelves at Southern California grocery stores are again circulating online and some retailers are setting purchasing limits on certain items.

While the rush to buy products like toilet paper and disinfecting supplies may be reminiscent of the panic buying phase seen early in the pandemic, a retail data analytics company, Agilence, says the spike is nowhere near the levels recorded in March.

“For your specific area of Southern California, we’ve seen about a 16% uptick in terms of overall sales in grocery stores supermarkets,” Derek Rodner of Agilence said. “It doesn’t nearly come close to what we saw in March — supermarket sales went up 60% in March.”

Reports of empty shelves came ahead of Election Day and continue as the nation sees a new surge in coronavirus cases.

“I wouldn’t attribute it to panic buying,” Rodner said. “I would just attribute it to being more conscientious — buying a little bit ahead.”

Christina Pascucci and Rick Chambers report for the KTLA 5 News on Nov. 19, 2020.

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