JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As concern surrounding the coronavirus pandemic grows, stores across Jacksonville are seeing a flood of foot traffic from people scrambling to stock up on supplies.
That turned out to be the case Friday morning outside the Costco on the city’s Southside where thousands of people lined up before the store had even opened its doors.
A store manager acknowledged that the big box store has seen more customers than normal.
Costco isn’t alone. Retailers such as Walmart, Publix, Walgreens and CVS are dealing with shortages and are trying to re-stock as soon as possible to keep up with demand.
At the Publix store at that corner of University and St. Augustine, water supplies of water and toilet paper have been running low. An employee said there was a line of people waiting to get in before the store opened at 7 a.m.
Over in the cleaning aisle, shelves for Publix brand bleach were completely empty. In other areas of the store, disinfectants appeared to completely gone. On a first-aid shelf, all the rubbing alcohol was gone and so were alcohol wipes. In the soap section, most of the hand soaps were gone. Monica Fernandez said she had already been to other stores looking for supplies.
“I’m just trying to by as much as possible, the disinfectants, toilet paper, just household essentials," Fernandez said.
Marie Norman was one of the customers waiting to get inside Costco before the doors opened.
“It’s pretty overwhelming in there,” Norman said. “There are people crawling everywhere, there’s no toilet paper, there’s no paper towel back there, and they’re kind of rationing out the waters.”
Video from a viewer shows the Costco at the St. John's Town Center had a line wrapped around the building this morning. Customers tell me they were limited on the number of items they can buy. Coming up at 5:30 on WJXT4 The Local Station / News4JAX details on restocking and how you can beat the rush. Source: Raj SharmaPosted by WJXT4 Marilyn Parker on Friday, March 13, 2020
Walmart, Publix, Walgreens and CVS have posted statements on their respective websites about the growing demand for certain products.
“We are working to replenish those items quickly, including diverting products to areas of the country where they are needed most and routing deliveries directly to stores. We have also authorized our store managers to manage their inventory, including the discretion to limit sales quantities on items that are in unusually high demand.”
“We are reviewing the inventory of products and working closely with our supplier partners to meet the demand for items customers may need.”
“We are reviewing the inventory of products and working closely with our supplier partners to meet the demand for items customers may need."
“Collaborating with partners across the Enterprise to help bolster business unit preparation and continuity, with a focus on meeting the needs of the consumers and other customers we serve, if and when warranted.”
According to Costco, its stores have been re-stocking products daily.
Customers who spoke with News4Jax on Friday said the store has good measures in place to help with large crowds, and they’re hopeful key items will be in stock soon.
“I’m going to continue to do what I have been doing,” Norman said. “I mean, I’m going to go look for toilet paper somewhere else.”
Costco representatives said they receive 10 to 20 trucks a day, each carrying fresh supplies. There’s just no telling what will be on those trucks.
Some customers said they were encouraged to call ahead to see if the products they want are available.
In an effort to keep stores clean for customer and employee safety, Publix has suspended in-store food demonstrations.
Most stores said they’re following guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Walmart is among stores considering modifying its hours to allow time for cleaning.
The stores also encourage people to exercise delivery services to reduce public contact.