No need to panic buy as items run out of stock in Triangle-area grocery stores, experts say

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – You might notice certain products out of stock at your local grocery store.

Experts said they are seeing disruptions to the supply chain, affecting everything from meats to sports drinks.

It’s not a repeat of last year when there was a run on toilet paper and disinfectant. Those items aren’t currently in jeopardy.

However, experts are repeating the same message from last year: Don’t panic buy.

Empty shelves or gaps within them can be spotted in grocery stores across the state, from small to big.

“It’s affecting definitely everybody across the board,” said Andy Ellen, president of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.

Experts said material and labor shortages along with transportation delays are causing products to be out of stock.

“A lot of the shortages are related to labor and COVID-related issues as well as storms and other things as well that’s impacting things consumers would normally see on the shelves,” said North Carolina State University professor Rob Handfield.

There are staffing shortages, from the distribution centers to the truck drivers to the workers who stock the shelves in the store.

Storms have also disrupted supplies and travel times.

“There’s a whole series of events to get it to that store shelf that we often don’t think about, which is really critical to our way of life, and the way we consume things in society,” said Handfield.

Materials like plastics and resins are low right now, which can affect items like bottled drinks and packaged meals.

Chemical fertilizer is being impacted, which impacts everything from corn to livestock.

“It does have a true ripple effect and that could impact even dairy products as well,” said Handfield.

The good news is there are still plenty of options for shoppers — you may just have to swap out your favorite brand for the time being.

“You go to any grocery store and walk down the aisle, there’s 75 varieties of ketchup and varieties of mustard, and we may not get that specific brand you have traditionally bought, but there’s going to be an alternative there for you,” said Ellen.

Experts say there’s no need to panic buy as none of these items are going away.

They estimate it could take up to next year for things to return to normal.

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