Empty Store Shelves and Long Checkout Lines in the GTA

Photos by Semyon Dovzhik

Social Media Reaction to Panic Buying

Government Advises Shoppers to Avoid Panic Buying

by Semyon Dovzhik

The Ontario government has called on shoppers to refrain from panic buying and practice “normal grocery buying habits". The statement came after customers in Ontario started stocking products like toilet paper, Lysol wipes, canned foods, flour and fresh meat from grocery retailers across the province.
“Rest assured, we have plenty of food that will continue to reach grocery stores on a regular basis,” said in a statement that was issued last Saturday by the Health Minister Christine Elliott and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman.
The panic buying created what experts call a domino effect. Those who just intent to buy weekly groceries supply witness the long lines. That urged many regular shoppers to start stocking products that might be out of reach in the future. As a result, store shelves across the GTA have emptied of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and drugs. Social media users are have shared photos and videos of empty shelves and extended checkout lines.

Photo credit: Semyon Dovzhik

Brandy Dean lives with her husband and 5 year old child in the Church/ Wellesley area.  As every week,  she went last Friday to Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws .

"There was virtually nothing there.! I would have bought vegetables, whatever meat was on sale, pasta, rice, soup, etc. Besides the non-perishables I might haven bought, staples like eggs were also absent. I have not experienced anything like this. I grew up in the Deep South of the US where any mention of snow causes a run on the grocery store, but I’ve never seen this. Honestly it was unnerving. Even in the moment, I understood that this was temporary- there’s not really a food shortage - and it was based on panic-buying by others, but like begets like. It’s hard not to panic when faced with empty shelves in the grocery."

According to BlogTO report, in one case buying tensions resulted in physical violence . Two customers reportedly engaged in a fight before one of them pulled out a gun.   Toronto Police reported one suspect has been arrested, and the investigation is ongoing. The police also have a weapon recovered from the scene.

Despite the reassurance of Ontario officials, last Sunday night, many Toronto stores continued to experience a shortage of many essential goods, especially paper products. At least one retailer, Loblaws, decided to put a limit to the number of papers product per customer.

Long Line ups at Loblaws

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