Grocery stores struggling to keep up as shoppers clear shelves but say there's no lack of supply
Despite the run on stock, stores say supply chain is strong and goods are being replenished
Grocery stores are struggling to keep up their stock of goods as shoppers clear shelves of food in supplies in anticipation of having to self-isolate to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Cam Bruce, one of the owners of Famous Foods in East Vancouver, says the store got busy three weeks ago.
"It just went through the roof last Thursday," he said. "We've had five days of just ridiculous traffic."
Bruce says shelves have been regularly cleaned out faster than they can be restocked and staff have had to pick up extra hours.
"We need that extra time to try and get the shelves stocked up. We literally can't keep up"
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But he says the empty shelves are due to the huge demand on suppliers right now but there's no lack of supply.
"They're overwhelmed because we're ordering three, four times what we're used to," he said. "It's just a matter of physically, logistically getting it to us and us getting it to the floor."
The grocer says Tuesday was the calmest the store has been in three weeks.
Watch Famous Foods owner Cam Bruce explain why it's been a struggle to keep shelves stocked.
Finance minister warns against hoarding
B.C.'s finance minister warned against hoarding in a Tuesday morning news conference.
"There isn't any need to overstock your own supplies. Doing so will put at risk seniors, single parents, and others who need those necessities. Shop well, plan ahead, but please don't go overboard at other people's expenses," said Carole James.
The minister added that there is a healthy supply chain coming into British Columbia and that the government has been assured that there is enough stock for everyone.
City of Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West is going a step further and is advising that no more than 50 people should be gathered in an area inside a business in which they are unable to maintain social distancing of one to two metres.
For larger stores like Costco, that may mean while there are more than 50 people inside the store, they are not in the same area at once.
He says many retailers have already begun to restrict the number of people inside their stores to help with social distancing.
West says if stores don't comply, however, he's ready to declare a local state of emergency, which would allow the municipality's Bylaw Services and Fire Department to impose occupancy restrictions on any business.
Stores limiting hours for seniors
Some stores at the Granville Island Market are implementing measures to make their locations safer for vulnerable seniors.
"We don't want a whole bunch of younger people coming in at the same time as the seniors," said Adam Larbi who runs The Grainry. "We'd like just the seniors to come in from 9 to 10 a.m."
Like Bruce at Famous Foods, Larbi says rumours about lack of stock aren't true.
"We've overstocked everything in preparation," he said. "There's rumors coming around that Granville Island might be closed. It isn't."
Meanwhile, Bruce says employees have been more than happy to step up and take on the extra work.
"It's unusual times. No one's ever been through this. We're all just kind of feeling it day by day."
He says butchers have been coming in to work graveyard shifts and they're trying to bring in extra help to alleviate the burden on staff.
Watch Grainry owner Adam Larbi illustrate some of the health and safety measures he has implemented.
- An earlier version of this story stated Port Coquitlam's mayor had imposed a store limit of 50 people. In fact, the limit is recommended only for businesses that can't maintain social distancing of one to two metres.Mar 18, 2020 1:58 PM PT
- An earlier version of this story said that a local state of emergency would give the municipality the power to station firefighters outside stores to control the flow of people. In fact, it would allow the municipality’s bylaw services and the fire department to impose occupancy restrictions on any business.Mar 18, 2020 2:00 PM PT