Food stores adjusting to panic-buying



As worries grow about the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and the rest of the world, local grocery stores are having to cope with increased demand for food, water, toilet paper, and other items.

In downtown Liberty Hill, Parker’s Market is providing locals with the essential items they need, working hard to meet an ever-growing demand.

“H-E-B doesn’t have anything, Costco doesn’t have anything, and Restaurant Depot is on limits for everything, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have anything,” said Manager Kimberly Woolsey.

“Business is really good, but for people who need just a couple of things, there’s nothing left,” said Woolsey.

Woolsey worries about a possible time when people have so much at home that venturing out to the store isn’t necessary.

“I don’t think the rush is going to last for that long,” she said. “Pretty soon, everybody is going to be so stocked up that they won’t need anything else, and then the business is going to be slow.”

Dollar General on SH 29 is facing the same challenges as many other stores in the area – long lines and a shortage of supplies. Aisles usually filled with toilet paper and paper towels are empty.

Oklahoma native Celia Fink, shopping at Dollar General Tuesday, said she believes COVID-19 is serious and that people need to view it as not just hype.

“I just wish everyone would get together on the same page because it’s severe,” she said. “Our President, too, because this is serious.”

Fink, who is worried about the severity of the issue, is hearing similar stories from her home state of Oklahoma.

“I got an email from a friend in Oklahoma who comes from a very small town, and she said it was nothing like down here,” said Fink. “The next day, she sent me a picture, and all the shelves in this small, small town were gone.”

The reason for the wild reactions from people across the nation is a fear of the unknown, of what’s to come next.

Ms. Brown, a Dollar General shopper who preferred not to have her first name published, believes the media has played a large part in the negativity being spread.

“It’s not a hoax, but more people have died from the flu than they have this thing,” said Brown. “The media has made it out worse than what it is. Eighteen thousand people died from the flu last year. They never tell you about the people that have recovered from this.”

She believes there should have been a swifter response by stores to limit the number of items people can buy.

“These stingy people buying in mass quantities need to be punished because it’s wrong what they’re doing,” Brown said. “When this thing hit, they should have started limiting how many things people could get.”

H-E-B is now limiting the quantities that customers may purchase. Along the aisles, and on many of the glass doors in the frozen foods section, there are notes informing customers of the limits on particular items.

Like in a majority of other places, Leander’s H-E-B Plus earlier this week was short of poultry and beef, and there were no paper towels or toilet paper.

On their website, H-E-B included a list of items and the maximum quantity allowed for purchase.

The Texas grocery chain has adjusted store hours to allow time for restocking. Store hours are now from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. until further notice.
H-E-B Food Item Limits 
Chicken – 4 units
Ground beef – 4 units
Water – 2 multipacks and 2 gallons, a total of 4 items
Eggs – 2 units
Frozen vegetables – 4 units
Frozen breakfast – 4 units
Frozen pizza – 4 units
Boxed dinners – 8 units
Pasta – 4 units
Pasta sauce: 4 units
Rice – 4 units
Canned soup – 8 units
Canned vegetables – 8 units
Canned beans – 8 units
Canned seafood – 8 units
Canned meat – 8 units
Dried beans – 4 units
Nut butter – 4 units
Oatmeal – 4 units
Cereal – 4 units
Bread – 4 units
Milk – 2 units
Powdered milk – 2 units
Non-food Item Limits
Baby diapers – 2 units
Baby wipes – 2 units
Toilet paper – 2 units
Paper towels: 4 units
Disinfecting & antibacterial sprays/wipes – 4 units
Liquid bleach – 2 units
Hand sanitizer – 2 units
Hand soap – 2 units
Hydrogen peroxide – 2 units
Rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol/swabs – 2 units
Latex gloves – 2 units
Masks – 2 units