Supply Chain Expert: Stores Will Catch Up to Demand

Supply Chain Expert: Stores Will Catch Up to Demand
Although COVID-19 has caused panic buying and empty shelves, an expert says not to worry.

 It's a scene playing out in grocery stores and markets across the United States: the pandemic leads to panic buying which then leads to empty shelves. 

But supply chain experts say this is no time to panic.

"My advice to individuals is that the system will catch up. Supplies will be there, food will be there. It just takes time," Association for Supply Chain Management CEO Abe Eshkenazi said.

Abe Eshkenazi is the CEO of the association of supply chain management — an organization that works with manufacturers and retailers around the world. While companies have been smoothly operating on efficient, "just in time" production and delivery models, those models fall apart when hit with big, sometimes irrational demands. 

"What doesn't work well is when there are huge shocks to the system, whether it's caused by an environmental challenge, whether it's a tsunami in Japan, or a terrorist attack or this pandemic. The shocks to the system of the overbuying takes time for the system to catch up to the production," Eshkenazi said. 

Stores are also taking steps to meet customers' needs for social distancing.

"We've stopped taking cash and configured our point of sale system so the customer can insert the card themselves. We've made our own hand sanitizer with 190 proof grain alcohol and water and we have bottles at both our front door and back door for customers on their way in an doubt for our employees staged all over the store," Kelly's Market Owner Sean Crotty said.

And with some customers wanting to avoid germs altogether by staying out of stores, online retailers and shopping service providers like Instacars are seeing a big jump in demand.

"With the displacement of a lot of workers, we're going to see a shift in utilization, more often away from retail and commercial into a home-based environment," Eshkenazi said. 

Reporting for Newsy, I'm Seema Iyer.