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food Worried about more shortages, grocery stores are stockpiling goods

Grocery stores across the United States are stocking up on products to avoid shortages during a second wave of coronavirus.

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Household products -- including paper towels and Clorox wipes -- have been difficult to find at times during the pandemic, and if grocery stores aren't stocked up and prepared for second wave this winter, runs on products and shortages could happen again.

That's why Southeastern Grocers bought its Thanksgiving turkeys and holiday hams over the summer, months before inventory planning normally begins, the company's CEO Anthony Hucker told the Wall Street Journal. Associated Food Stores started stockpiling cleaning and sanitizing products so it always has inventory in its warehouse, and with cold season around the corner, grocery wholesaler United Natural Foods has already loaded up on herbal tea and cold remedies, the company told the Journal.

Early on in the pandemic, grocery stores were focusing on stockpiling weeks of supplies for shoppers, but now food sellers are focusing on the long-term, aiming to stockpile supplies for months instead.

Still, paper towel shortages have been ongoing, going in and out of stock on Amazon (AMZN) and at Costco (COST) and local stores. And when paper towels are available, customers can't always get the brand they want.

Part of the reason for the shortage is people keep hoarding them: There was a massive surge in sales of Bounty paper towels in July, Procter & Gamble (PG) reported, as customers swept them off store shelves. Bounty paper towel sales surged in July as people began scrubbing down their homes and washing their dishes more often during the pandemic.

And Clorox, (CLX) the world's biggest maker of disinfectant cleaning materials, said consumers will continue to see a shortage of its wipes and other products into 2021 because of overwhelming demand during the pandemic.

Clorox dominates the $1 billion disinfectant wipes market with a 45% market share. The company said it has aggressively ramped up production for its cleaning products, but it still won't be enough.

With high demand for groceries comes higher prices in the aisles. Since March, more Americans have been eating at home — and their grocery expenses have been growing. This is partly due to the fact that food manufacturers and grocery stores are rethinking their pricing strategies now because demand is surging.