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Toilet paper restrictions, empty shelves return as viruses grow

NEW YORK (AP) – Looking for toilet paper? Good luck.

The emergence of new cases of coronavirus in the United States sends people back to stores to store again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to limit purchases.

Walmart said Tuesday that there are problems with maintaining demand for detergents in some stores. The Kroger and Publix supermarket chains limit the amount of toilet paper and paper towels buyers can buy after demand has jumped recently. And Amazon sells most disinfectant wipes and paper towels.

A similar scene took place in Marchwhen the pandemic first struck and people huddled in their homes.

But Jeff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, a former grocery association, said he did not expect things to be so bad, as the blockade is regional and everyone is better prepared.

“A more informed consumer, combined with a more informed manufacturer and a more informed retailer, must provide us all with a greater sense of lightness and ensure that we can meet this growing demand,”

; Freeman said.

The biggest supply problem seems to be paper products: 21% of the shelves that hold paper towels and toilet paper are empty, the highest level in at least a month, according to market research firm IRI. Cleaning materials remain at 16%. Before the pandemic, 5% to 7% of consumer goods were usually in stock, the IRI said.

Contributing to the problem is the fact that approximately 10% of the workforce in the manufacturing plants that produce the products call sick, mainly because they have been in contact with other people who have tested positive for COVID-19, Freeman said.

Kelly Anderson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, said she needed more supplies now that the private school in her area was canceled earlier this month and her two children are at home more. She noticed that others were stocking up: Safeway and Walmart were almost wiped out by bottled water and disinfectants during a recent visit that was easy to find since the summer.

It was also more difficult to find a time interval to deliver food to her. Anderson says he had to wait up to two days instead of delivering the same day. But it’s still not as bad as it was earlier this year

“March looks like a million years ago, but I remember being crazy,” she said. “I failed to deliver food for a week.”

Walmart said that while the emphasis in some areas is on supplies, he believes he will be able to handle any stocks now than earlier this year. Amazon said it was working with manufacturers to stock items such as disinfectant wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer.

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