Study: Americans May Begin Stockpiling Again Due To COVID-19 Fears, Election Uncertainty

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — At the beginning of the pandemic, grocery store shelves across the country were bare as people stockpiled essential items from sanitizing wipes to toilet paper to canned goods.

Now, new research suggests that people may be getting ready to do it again.

“It took me probably two months to find a single thing of sanitizing wipes when this thing first kicked off,” one shopper said about the beginning of the pandemic. (CBSLA)

A recent study called the “Back to Normal Barometer” reports that 52% of people plan to begin stockpiling or have already stockpiled essential goods. More than half of those surveyed cited concern over a COVID-19 resurgence in their area as the reason.

However, 23% say they feel the need to stockpile due to uncertainty over the upcoming election. Another 19% said they are worried about social unrest tied to calls for racial justice.

“We began seeing it emerge a little bit more after the labor day weekend,” said Sports and Leisure Research Group President Jon Last.

The group is one of three that led the study. They found that people who plan to stockpile tend to lie on extreme sides of the political spectrum.

“As we approach the election cycle and concerns around unrest as the elections enters into the fray, we’ve seen people become more and more concerned and their indications of stress and their willingness and desire to stockpile increase with that,” Last said.

Consumer and grocery store blogger Jeanette Pavini said that shoppers are unlikely to experience a repeat of the shortages early on in the pandemic, but she does believe consumers should take steps to prepare for the months ahead.

“I think it’s something in the back of our minds and as we go into winter people will start to plan ahead for fear that things may be out of stock,” she said.

Some shoppers that spoke with KCAL9 said that they understand these fears that some may have about upcoming virus outbreaks and social unrest. They said that they hope people will deal with these issues as best they can, should they arise, but hopefully they will be mindful of others’ needs as well.

“I understand the fear,” said shopper Jackie Kelley. “I didn’t share it, but I understand it. People are who they are, and they deal with things the best they can, so that’s how I was looking at it.”

As COVID-19 numbers are rising in some parts of the country, Pavini said that grocery stores are also preparing for the coming months so that they can keep their shelves stocked.