Grocery store inventories rebounding — except for toilet paper

Wedge Community Co-op
According to the Twin Cities Co-op Partners, the Wedge and Linden Hills Co-ops have steadily built up their supplies, getting close to typical stocking levels, as the initial surge of people stocking up amid coronavirus concerns has passed.
Jon Collins | MPR News 2015

Shoppers are more likely to find what they want at many Twin Cities grocery stores, now that the initial shopping frenzy ignited by COVID-19 fears has passed.

Inventories and selection have notably improved at many stores, although things are still not back to normal.

The Wedge and Linden Hills Co-ops have steadily built up their supplies, getting close to typical stocking levels, said Josh Resnik, CEO of Twin Cities Co-op Partners.

“One of my store directors said 80 to 90 [percent] and the other said 90 to 95 [percent]. Let’s call it 90 percent in total,” he said.

Resnik said the selection of produce is especially strong, showing no evidence of tight supplies or panic.

Resnik said when people started really worrying about COVID-19 last month, customers cleared shelves of pasta, rice, beans and other staples. For five days in a row, store sales topped those for a typical day before Thanksgiving.

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Inventory levels are holding up pretty well at Kowalski’s 11 Twin Cities locations, said chief operating officer Mike Oase.

“The one area that's still a little bit tight is toilet paper,” he said. “And cleaning products are still a little bit tight. But aside from that, things have gotten a lot better each day.”

Oase said manufacturers have done a good job of catching up with demand. And Kowalski’s has limited purchases on some high-demand items, when warranted.

Oase said customer traffic is down about 35 percent from last year but sales are up a little bit. He said people are buying more when they shop. And more customers are opting for curbside pickup of groceries or home delivery.