JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Jacksonville continues to see more COVID-19 cases and deaths, store shelves are starting to look like they did when the coronavirus pandemic began.
But this time, some of the items that people are quickly buying up are also items that have been added to this year’s hurricane preparation list, which now includes cleaning wipes and hand sanitizers.
I spent much of the day going store to store, looking for those items and others. When the pandemic began, toilet paper and disinfectants were the main items flying off the shelves. Months later, after COVID-19 cases and deaths have increased, toilet paper is fully stocked, but disinfectants are either running low or completely out in many stores.
Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS and even many dollar stores are doing well this time around when it comes to stocking up on toilet paper. But when it comes to paper towels, the stores that I entered either had a limited supply to sell or the shelves were completely empty.
Hand sanitizer was just added to this year’s hurricane prep list. While this Publix appeared to be running low on hand sanitizer, the Winn Dixie, Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and even dollar stores that I entered appeared to have an abundance of it. But when it came to disinfectant sprays, wipes and liquids, all of the stores that I visited appeared to either have low supplies or empty shelves, especially when it came to popular name brands like Lysol and Clorox.
One shopper was not surprised.
“If you got it, they take it. If the store has it, they buy it,” said shopper Dorothy Holmes.
Despite signs in some stores asking customers to limit their purchase of certain items to only two, other shoppers said they would like to see stores do more to crack down on people who disregard these signs.
“They should be putting a limit on that. Us seniors should be able to get at least more than one,” said shopper Nancy Darling.
Shopper Carrie Kissinger said: “I think a lot of people are still going out and buying tons of items that are not needed right now, and if they would just do their job in making sure they are only buying what they need for their personal use when they need it, everybody would get a chance to purchase all the items.”
I spoke off-camera to a grocery store employee who was restocking shelves. She said a lot of senior citizens have recently come into her store to purchase Lysol spray but have walked away empty-handed because some shoppers have been buying as many as six cans at one time. She said she hid the last can -- so when the next senior citizen comes in, asking for the item -- she could at least make sure that person walks away with something that will help protect them from COVID-19.
I also called the stores that I went to and here’s what I found out:
- The Walgreens store that I went to had no idea. It’s hoping to see a replenishment in mid-August. It said shortages are at a lot of Walgreens locations.
- The CVS store that I went to said it has no idea when new shipments will come in.
- The Target store that I went to said it has no idea when it will get new shipments because demand is so high.
- The Winn-Dixie store that I went to said it has no idea and this is happening at all Winn-Dixie locations.
- The Publix manager who I spoke with said they get shipments every week, but the shipments are small and go very fast.
- The Walmart store that I went to said it can’t confirm availability.