Big grocery chains see second wave of empty shelves in Central Virginia

Local News

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– Major grocery stores across the nation are experiencing a second wave of ‘panic buying’ as COVID-19 cases continue to climb. Store shelves, normally filled with paper products and cleaning products, are wiped clean in some areas.

8News decided to check out what stores looked like in Central Virginia after noticing residents voice frustration online this past weekend. Some were upset about store shelves being bare at local stores and the lack of products available.

Some stores never fully restocked or recovered from the beginning of the pandemic, especially with name brand cleaning products like Clorox wipes and Lysol spray.

However it appears that major grocery chains, like Kroger and Walmart, are seeing the bare shelves again, but local grocery stores, like Tom Leonard’s and Market at 25th, are fully stocked. Norm Gold, developer of Market at 25th in Richmond, says his team is prepared for a second wave.

“There will be a second rush,” said Gold.” I am very confident in my store and what we have now.”

A second grocery store rush is looming as COVID-19 cases rise. Back in May, store shelves were empty and it appears to be happening again at big grocers. 8News viewers sent pictures of a Kroger in Mechanicsville, Walmart on Hull Street, and Kroger on Ironbridge Road that all have empty shelves.

An employee at a Kroger in Henrico shared with 8News that they were slammed over this past weekend and items like toilet paper and paper towels were wiped clean. Some were expressing concern on social media, discussing fears of a possible statewide shutdown and frustration of a second wave of ‘panic buying’.

However, it’s quite the opposite at the local grocery stores in the area, which are fully stocked with essential items.

“We’re in good shape,” said Gold.

Gold says many suppliers learned vital lessons from the first grocery rush and planned for another.
“They learned from what happened six months ago and they brought product in early,” said Gold. “But also when they’re distributing it, they’re going to restrict how much each store can get, so there’s a lot of planning and getting ready for it.”

At Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market in Henrico County, employees have been working hard since March to meet the needs of the community. Owner, TJ Leonard, says they have never sold toilet paper or paper towels before the pandemic, but started carrying it in the store because customers were requesting it.

Six months later and the store is still selling both paper products and as on Monday both were in full stock.

Leonard says he has hired dozens of seasonal staff to keep up with the high holiday demand.

“We are expecting more foot traffic this Thanksgiving than previous ones just because there is going to be more smaller meals opposed to that one big gathering around grandmas table,” said Leonard.

Kroger, Food Lion, and Target declined an on-camera interview with 8News. However Target sent a statement to the newsroom saying they are sending more inventory to stores now than ever before and will adjust “purchase limits” if necessary.

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