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Panic Buying Spikes As COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach 2-Month High, Election Anxiety Heightens

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Running a little low on ingredients for your favorite holiday recipes? It might soon be harder to find them at the grocery store.

"I did notice that there was a flour shortage," said one shopper at a Bristol Farms in Pasadena Wednesday night.

It's not just flour that's flying off the shelves. Spices and other essentials in the baking aisle are also rapidly disappearing.

Centricity Inc, a platform that tracks e-commerce, reports a 3,400% spike in demand in baking goods in the last three to four weeks, when compared to the same time last October.

This coincides with a two-month high for coronavirus-related hospitalizations across the country.

"I think there's a lot of fear, a lot of, I would even say, paranoia," said Dr. David Puder, a psychiatrist with Loma Linda University Behavioral Health.

Puder added that the uncertainty fueling to so-called "pantry loading" is probably also heightened by politics as Election Day draws near.

"People not knowing what's gonna happen in like a week, right?" he said.

He noted that fear and anxiety among his patients is at an all-time high, and people are buying a variety of items to comfort themselves.

Though some items, such as cleaning products and paper products, are still in short supply, grocery giants say they are more prepared this time than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

One shopper said she hopes that this reassurance will help discourage stockpiling.

"(It's) just wasteful...I stopped doing it," she said.

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