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Consumers ease up on panic buying

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And once-scarce toilet paper is becoming easier to find.

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The pandemic is dragging on and many Americans are still in self-quarantine, but pandemic panic buying is declining, reports Progressive Grocer. Consumer concerns about the availability of food and consumer packaged goods (CPG), such as household cleaners, is easing.

According to a recent survey from the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), concern about acquiring food and beverages has dropped to 61% of consumers, 16 points lower than it was on March 18, the peak for food and beverage concerns. “The drop in concern reflects the supply chain working out many of the early kinks and stores restocking any items that were wiped out in March,” the trade group said.

Legitimate supply chain concerns still exist in the world of food retailing. Concerns about a nationwide meat shortage were rife with the closing of meat processing plants, but as NACS Daily reported, President Trump has ordered the plants to remain open. Still, consumers worry about other necessities, according to the CBA, such as household cleaning products.

The CBA survey found that consumer concern about the availability of those products dropped to 70% this week from 74% last week. “While that’s still a strong majority,” the report noted, “it is the first decline seen yet.”

The report also found that 59% of U.S. consumers “have noticed greater availability of at least some high-demand products.”

One in-demand product that has become more available is toilet paper, according to U.S. News. Supplies are markedly more plentiful than they have been. About 48% of U.S. grocery stores were out of stock of toilet paper for some part of the day on April 19, the latest date for which figures were available. In comparison, out-of-stock shelves were prevalent at 73% of U.S. grocery stores one week earlier, on April 12, and the demand for the precious paper is still up 27% from pre-COVID-19 levels, noted NCSolutions, a consumer products data tracker.

Now consumers have a new worry—the upcoming “reopening” of the country and whether it will happen too soon, reports the CBA. When surveyed, “most Americans think the government will reopen the country in early summer, which is also the most common choice for when respondents feel it will be appropriate to lift restrictions, but by a significantly smaller margin (41% to 34%),” the trade group said. “This difference implies that many Americans think the government will move too fast to reopen.”

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