COVID-19 grocery run 2020-03-13 019_web
Local News

Shelves are bare after shoppers rush to ‘stock up’

Shoppers denied being panicked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they were interested in stocking up on certain items after the virus was declared to be a pandemic on March 11. 

Some shelves are still laden with goods but others have been cleaned out by shoppers stocking up on toilet paper and other products Friday afternoon, March 13, at Target in Homewood. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Shelves are mostly empty now.

Looking for flour? There is none. 

Chicken wings or thighs? All depends on the day.

Can I get a can of tomatoes? Maybe. 

Forget asking for wipes, hand sanitizer or toilet paper.

After the severity of COVID-19 became apparent, shoppers rushed to stores the weekend of March 13, 14 and 15 to “stock up” on essentials. 

Groceries stores, such as Meijer in Flossmoor, and Walt’s or the two Jewel stores and big box stores, such as Target and Menard’s all reported swarms of shoppers that wiped some shelves clean.

Now posted signs remind customers they are limited to one paper product or one meat item and no rain checks.

At the Walgreens on 183rd Street at Governors Highway, a manager reported doubling sales over those few days compared to the same time last year. Cleaning products, sanitizers, toilet paper and other essentials topped the list. 

The same was true at the Menard’s, 17545 Halsted Street in Homewood.

Grocery stores and pharmacies have been declared essential businesses and will remain open. Stocks are being replenished, but on a limited basis.

Several shoppers told the Chronicle they weren’t “panic shopping” but rather stocking up.

Greg Cohn of Flossmoor said he was “building up” his groceries “so if anything happens over two weeks I’m good.” He already had a stock of toilet paper at home. 

Patty O’Brien of Homewood was back at Walt’s on Saturday, March 14, because she’d forgotten a few things on a trip to the store a day earlier.

“Am I panicked? Not in the least, but they’re running out of things,” she said.

Pat Cunningham of Flossmoor was stocking up on dog food and a few essentials for his pantry. He said he likes to eat out, but with restaurants closed he needed a few things.

Patricia Yancy of Homewood was told not to come to work, and her son didn’t return to Lewis University after spring break. 

“We’ll be eating at home now” rather than at school or near the office, she said, so she needed breakfast and lunch food.  She added items to her regular shopping list  “as a precaution.”

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