CBA: Concern about grocery shortages eases as more Americans feel their pantries are well-stocked

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty
Source: Getty

Related tags coronavirus Consumer Brands Association Grocery stores

Americans’ fears about accessing essential products, including food and beverages, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may be ebbing slightly, even as their concern about the virus generally continues to rise, according to new data from the Consumer Brands Association.

According to a poll ​of American adults’ attitudes about the coronavirus conducted by CBA every week since March 4, more than half – 54% -- of respondents said they were “very concerned”​ about the virus during the week with March 25. An additional 34% say they are “somewhat concerned” about the virus. This is up from 37% and 39% respectively during the week of March 4.

At the same time, the already low percentage of Americans who reported during the week of March 4 that they were not all concerned (6%) or not very concerned (18%) has halved with only 3% reporting they were not at all concerned and 9% that they were not very concerned about coronavirus during the week of March 25.

As this fear has climbed, so too has the percentage of Americans stockpiling food, noticing shortages of high-demand goods, experiencing price gouging and feeling concerned about access to essential products. Although data suggests we may have reached a turning point.

Most American’s now have a stocked pantry

After weeks of stripping grocery store shelves bare and ordering online more product than was immediately available, most Americans finally report having a well-stocked pantry, according to CBA data. But as the data indicates, the path to purchase has come with several challenges.

CBA found March 25, 67% of survey respondents reported purchasing supplies to prepare for coronavirus – up from 22% during the first week of the month. As they have done so, 84% reported noticing shortages or item limits on high-demand goods during the week of March 25 compared to 37% at the start of the month.

As products become scare, more consumers reported personally seeing price gouging on high-demand goods. According to the poll, 46% of respondents reported the phenomenon last week, while only 24% reported it at the start of the month.

Despite shortages and higher prices on some goods, CBA found that most Americans now consider themselves well-stocked with essentials for at least one or more weeks. According to the poll, 44% of respondents said they are stocked for more than two weeks, 36% said they could ride out one to two weeks and 13% said they were well-stocked for one week.

“People who have purchased staples like cleaning supplies, personal care items and food and beverage staples to prepare for coronavirus has more than tripled, standing at 67% today, compared to 22% four weeks ago,”​ CBA’s Senior Director of Industry Narrative Katie Denis wrote in a March 27 blog post on the trade group’s website.

As such, she added, 77% report they now “feel prepared for the coronavirus and its impact on their life – a refreshing jump from 66% on March 11 and even 73% on March 18.”

Fears about limited access ease

As more shoppers feel comfortable with their supply of essential products at home, their fear about accessing those products seems to be easing slightly – although anxiety continues to run high.

Last week, 72% of CBA poll respondents said they were worried about accessing food and beverage products, which is up dramatically from 62% during the week with March 11, but also down slightly from last week, which peaked at 77%.

This trend holds true for other household cleaning products, personal care items and over-the-counter medicines as well.

CBA suggests in a March 30 release that this trend could suggest “more Americans may be seeing stocked shelves again soon,”​ something that Denis notes in her blog post the CPG industry “has been working overtime to accomplish.”

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