Consumer demand for groceries is at an unprecedented high as municipalities, states and the federal government implement measures intended to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
The Packer's copy editor and designer Amelia Freidline and retail editor Ashley Nickle visited eight stores in the Kansas City metro area March 17 to get a feel for which displays were being shopped down more than others and how departments looked overall.
Potatoes, onions and bananas were among the more difficult items to find, likely because they are staple items, and because potatoes and onions obviously tend to have a longer shelf life than many of their produce department counterparts.
While The Packer staff noticed a number of nearly empty displays or ones with quite limited selection, overall there were plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to be had.
Retailers have been comparing the situation to the reactionary stock-ups before big storms or the crush of major holidays — with the difference being that the demand has continued in that vein for days.
Overall concern with the coronavirus situation has heightened as many schools have closed, many restaurants have been shut down except for takeout and delivery service, large gatherings have been banned or advised against, major sports leagues have suspended their seasons, significant events have been cancelled, and travel has been limited. The stated goal of the restrictions is to slow the spread of the virus to keep the impact on the U.S. healthcare infrastructure at a manageable level.