Panic buying leaves empty shelves at local grocery store

The toilet paper aisle at the Piggly Wiggly in Leland is completely empty on March 15, 2020. (Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — The fear of coronavirus is causing people to “panic buy.”

With a presumptive positive case in Brunswick County, people have cleared the shelves in Leland’s Piggly Wiggly.

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“They’ve been coming and getting all this stuff. The Clorox wipes, the hand sanitizer. We’re low on paper towels,” Service Clerk Mario Langley said. “They’ve been getting a lot of stuff. We don’t even have anything in the back to go get.”

No Clorox wipes, not a single roll of toilet paper and no anti-bacterial hand soap.

But there is plenty of body soap, healthy food options, and some spray household cleaning products.

Langley says there’s nothing to restock the shelves.

“It’s supposed to be my day stocking and the truck isn’t here so I don’t think we’re gonna get it,” he said.

Shoppers say they’ve spent the past few days looking for supplies.

“I came here looking for some hand soap. This is my 4th store,” Jane Harkness said. “I’ve been to Walmart, Harris Teeter and Aldi multiple days.”

Harkness says she’s taking extra steps to make sure she and her family are protected.

“Washing our hands ever more and I’m thinking, golly this is going to cut down on a lot of other illnesses,” she said. “I feel like I’m a clean person but I’m way more aware than I have ever been.”

While staying healthy is important, now that all public schools are closed for at least two weeks her biggest concern isn’t washing her hands.

“It really bothers me that the children who depend on school lunches and are they going to get fed?” she asked.

Harkness says she would like to somehow volunteer and provide food for children in need.

She also is concerned for those who will suffer following church closings. While she’s disappointed she won’t be able to see her church community, she is worried for those who have a greater need.

“I think about the people that are in 12 step groups,” Harkness said. “They can’t go to their meetings. I mean, that’s their lifeline.”

Service Clerk Mario Langley says he hopes everyone stays safe and healthy.