Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other hygienic essentials began flying off the store shelves weeks ago amid worrying mono over the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Not to worry, dealers and suppliers said, we drop the product and pick up inventory to meet demand.
So where is it? One week into a never-before-seen-for-home-to-stay scheme to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients, consumers across the Bay Area and, therefore, still find empty store shelves when looking for things like toilet paper, paper towels, sanitary towels and disinfectant towels.
“The ultimate question that everyone wants to know is when will store shelves be redone,” said Eric Abercrombie, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific, one of the world̵
In fact, nobody seems to do it – not the stores, not the suppliers, and really not the hordes of people sharing their misery on social media #toiletpapercrisis.
“Some people don’t shake hands because of the Coronavirus,” read a tweet. “I don’t shake hands because everyone runs out of toilet paper.”
– Janis Neufeld (@jsneufeld) March 26, 2020
Georgia-Pacific factories and regional distribution centers last week delivered 120 percent of their normal capacity, Abercrombie said.
“We are breaking some production records,” he said. “We’re trying to get it out as quickly as we can.”
But you wouldn’t know it after visiting local supermarkets and pharmacies, where some aisles look like something you’d imagine in Communist Cuba or Venezuela.
In the Bay Area – the center of the Silicon Valley tech universe, where everyone is used to being able to buy something with a few taps on their iPhone – online e-tailers are no help. Search on Amazon and it shows a 36-reel package Angel Soft which when you try to add it to your e-cart, is not available. The earliest you can get 10 rolls of Treesolo 3 team is April 16.
Large grocery chains offered little in the way of encouraging the outlook for retail supply.
“We make deliveries to our stores on a regular basis, and many in-demand items are purchased shortly after reposting on the shelves,” said Wendy Gutshall, spokeswoman for the Northern California Division of Safeway. “We work with our supplier partners to fill demand for products as quickly as possible. We ask our customers to respect the quantity limits for selected products, such as hand sanitizers, household cleaners and other staplers to ensure that more of our neighbors can find the products they need. “
Gutshall acknowledged that “we do not have customer restrictions on purchasing high-demand items such as toilet paper – it is honor system – but said that Safeway has” adapted store hours to give our teams the time they need to return shelves and get ready to serve the community. “
Raley’s spokeswoman Chelsea Minor said: “Unfortunately I have no answer” on when TP will be plentiful in its stores again.
“We work with our suppliers to get more product,” Minor said. “We are also regional – we do not have the same purchasing power as the larger chains.”
Procter & Gamble, the Ohio company that is also a major manufacturer of toilet paper, said they also work around the clock to meet the high demand.
“Demand continues to exceed supply, but we’re working hard to get products to our retailers as quickly as humanly possible so everyone can continue to enjoy Go,” said Proctor & Gamble spokesman Loren Fanroy. “We prioritize our best-selling sizes to maximize the amount of product we can send to retailers and we remain focused on making sure our products are available when and where people shop under this very dynamic situation. We continue to manufacture and ship Charmin to our dealers. “
Oakland-based Clorox, which makes a number of clean-up products such as disinfectants that have disappeared from stores, along with toilet paper and paper towels, had no immediate response Thursday.
Why toilet paper disappeared from stores is a frustrating mystery for government agencies and health officials trying to deal with the pandemic crisis and preventing consumer panic. Unlike the disinfection of wet wipes or paper towels soaked in bleach, toilet paper does not kill the corona virus, and COVID-19 disease is an airway infection, not an upset stomach that often requires trips to the bathroom.
But perhaps the hammers who cleared the shelves showed that as more workers did their jobs from home, their household demand would increase.
The Georgia-Pacific region indicates that according to consumer survey and US census data, the average US household of 2.6 people uses 409 regular rolls a year. The company estimated that people who stay at home around the clock would increase daily use by about 140 percent. To last for two weeks, G-P said, a two-person household would need nine double rollers and a four-person household would need 17.
Good luck finding it.