Southern Idaho shoppers hope for a return to normalcy in 2021

Some essential items are still hard to find on the shelves
Some essential items like toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies are still hard to...
Some essential items like toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies are still hard to come by in smaller grocery stores.(SK)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 12:11 PM MST
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WENDELL, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Grocery stores saw panic buying early last year when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, with waves of shoppers stocking up on essential items.

Simerly’s Grocery Store in Wendell saw record sales in March and April last year, as shoppers were rushing to the store to stock up on essential items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies and canned goods.

“We have probably had the greatest sales we have had in my lifetime here. In fact, some weeks I couldn’t figure out what we were still selling with so little of things,“ said Paula Simerly, who is the owner of Similerly’s. “And it certainly was panic buying.”

However, almost a year later some items are still hard to find on the shelves. One family told KMVT on Tuesday that paper towels and toilet paper are still hard to come by, especially the popular brands.

Another shopper told KMVT Tuesday that she was happy to see one of her favorite items finally came in, a 12-pack of Lipton Ice Tea. She said it’s been out on the shelf for “ages.”

Simerly said for some reason the supply chain still hasn’t been able to catch up to customer demand, and she still gets “shorted” on supplies that she orders, or she will receive “oddball” product in place of things that she has ordered.

“We started getting in more toilet paper and paper towels in oddball names. It’s not necessarily the Bounty or the Brawny or those type of things,” Simerly said. “We get things like Firora and things you have never seen before, but at least there is something on the shelf.”

She also said it seems like “Mom and Pop” grocery stores are last in line for supplies that are in high demand.

“If Walmart had a row of toilet paper, and we didn’t, or Fred Meyer, we are thinking why are the big companies getting it and the independents are not,” Simerly said.

With COVID still making headlines and unrest in the nation’s capital, some customers said they have seen some panic buying lately.

“Well, I had a neighbor talking about it yesterday that his wife went shopping and bought way over their normal budget, and he was thinking ‘oh geesh, here we go again,” a shopper told KMVT News.

However, Simerly said her store has pretty much been experiencing the “new normal” since COVID hit, and she hasn’t seen any “panic buying.” She said for the past year, her store has seen highs and lows in sales depending on what kind of headlines the virus is making.

“When it makes the headlines that’s the thing I have noticed during those weeks. You saw them after Thanksgiving. You saw them after Christmas, " Simerly said. “It has settled down a little right now.”

But she said she has seen a surge in firearms sales lately. Simerly said the product is in such short supply that sometimes they can only order and bring in higher-priced items.

“There is always this thought that the Democrats are going to take your guns away, and then there is panic buying on that,” Simerly said.

At the end of the day, everybody just wants to see some return to normalcy.

One customer told KMVT, “It’s been horrible.”

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