Like others across the U.S., Forsyth stores have struggled to keep up with demand surge created by the coronavirus pandemic. Everything from common grocery items to bathroom products and cleaning supplies have been selling out as people prepare to self-quarantine and ride out the virus at home.
The manager at the Ingles on Tift College Drive told the Reporter some of the main items selling out in the store include “toilet paper, bread, paper towels, milk, eggs and Ramen noodles”. She also stated that most of their cleaning supplies like bleach and Lysol spray have been bought off the shelf. Asked how the store is managing to meet the demand, she said the Ingles’ warehouses are having to limit the number of items a store can request so that they have enough supplies to distribute amongst their 200+ different locations. In addition, the government’s decision to shut down travel to and from Europe may make restocking these warehouses more difficult. The manager said Ingles is trying to ration the number of items each household can buy so that there’s enough to go around.
One of the more humorous aspects of this hysteria is the all-out frenzy around buying toilet paper. One Walmart employee said their TP has been flying off the rack “like it was made of gold”. The Ingles manager said they’ve had to remove most of the toilet paper from the public restrooms because customers have been stealing it. Employees now have to go to the customer service office and request a roll to take with them to the bathroom. Understandably, local residents feel the need to stock up on home essentials right now. With that said, store managers said it’s important to take only the required allotment and to leave enough for other families as well.
To limit the chance of the virus spreading, the Ingles manager said employees are being told to regularly wash their hands and disinfect their workstations. The store is keeping an ample supply of hand sanitizer near the front-end for customers and employees to use. Ingles doesn’t allow employees to wear masks or gloves so that customers feel more comfortable. The store is also not allowed to ask customers to leave who are exhibiting symptoms of the virus. According to the manager, all they can do is keep a safe distance and disinfect the register area once that customer has gone.
Perhaps the biggest issue these stores have been facing is an increase in employee absences. Many Ingles workers have been calling in sick and management isn’t allowed to question this. As of now, these stores are facing this unprecedented surge understaffed and understocked. The manger ended by saying that the store is “doing the best (they) can with who will come in and with what (they) have”.