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.

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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.

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.