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Andrea Felsted

The Return of Empty Shelves and Panic Buying

Supply chain issues are leaving supermarket shelves empty. Shoppers might yet make things worse.

Where is everything?

Where is everything?

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

Walk around a supermarket in the U.S. or Europe and you will see some empty shelves once more. This isn’t due to people panic-buying toilet paper, as they did early on in the pandemic; rather it’s because supply chains are clogged at almost every stage between Asian factories and grocery stock rooms.

But rising prices and patchy availability mean it’s only a matter of time before shoppers start purchasing in bulk again — this time to avoid future sticker shock.