COVID-19: As panic-buying increases, expert says supply chain should hold up

As stories of toilet paper hoarding and sold-out hand sanitizer around Canada circulate on social media, one supply chain expert says store shelves should remain stocked with product even as cases of COVID-19 increase.

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax whose research focuses on food distribution, security and safety. He expects that while some prices could go up, once this initial panic period passes, there shouldn’t be any issue getting essentials and food.

“Supply chains have gotten smarter over the years,” Charlebois said. “They are able to adapt in shifts in demand for a variety of products. So we shouldn’t worry too much about food shortages.

“If you see an empty shelf in a store, chances are in a few days, you’ll see products on that shelf again.”

Charlebois said that about 11 per cent of households in Canada are “prone to panic buying.” In the U.S., it’s closer to 25 per cent.

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