EASTON — As the number of patients testing positive for the novel coronavirus increases in Maryland, department and drug stores are struggling to keep certain supplies on their shelves as Mid-Shore customers prepare for the worst.
Denton Walmart employees could be seen handing out disinfectant wipes for customers to wipe down their shopping cart handles when they walked in the door on Friday, March 13.
The shelves that normally stock cleaning supplies and toilet paper were empty in the morning at the busy Denton store.
"That is everywhere," said Jack Phebus, of Marydel, acknowledging shelves depleted of hand sanitizers at the Walmart on Thursday, March 12. "Everybody is in panic mode."
"It's like when they are calling for snow," Phebus said. "Toilet paper and water and milk selling out. Can't get hand sanitizers because the store is sold out — even at the dollar store."
A local drug store manager, who declined to be named because of corporate policies, said the store was “almost out of everything.” He listed Lysol and all other brands of disinfectant spray and wipes, rubbing alcohol, sanitary and latex gloves, most cleaning supplies and aloe vera gel.
“We will be out of toilet paper tonight,” he said on March 12.
Corporate offices say they are doing their best to meet customer demand during the pandemic.
“We’re continuing to see greater demand for a number of products across our stores nationwide, which may cause temporary shortages,” said Alexandra Brown, a Walgreens corporate spokesperson.
“We are re-stocking those stores as quickly as possible and continuing to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands," Brown said. "To confirm availability of products and for the most up to date inventory information, customers may always call their local stores.”
Target has increased staffing for their in-demand services like "Order Pickup" and "Drive Up," two services that limit person to person connection. They are also reporting the need to give extra attention to keeping medicine, cleaning products and pantry items in stock, according to a press release from Brian Cornell, the company's chief executive officer.
Both Walmart and Target have asked their store managers to begin limiting the number of sales per customer of some products. Both stores did not specify which products they would limit.
Walgreens has increased their emphasis on their tele-health option for customers. They have also waived their delivery fees for all eligible prescriptions. Walgreens is also offering free delivery for online purchases starting Friday, March 13, according to a company press release.
Customers should be aware that search engine results are not always supplying the correct opening hours for chain stores' local sites. It is better to check the store’s website or call the location before making the trip.
The Walmart in Denton is open from 6 a.m. to midnight. The Easton Walgreens and Target are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Many customers are now going online to get the products they need. This helps avoid contact with other people and relieves doubt of going to a store where their desired product might be sold out.