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Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Retailers Discourage Panic Buying

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- With the recent surge of coronavirus cases and the holiday season just ahead, people have been hitting the stores hard again.

But local retailers told KDKA that there is no supply shortage and no need to panic buy.

Dianne Damico was able to score all of the essentials — including toilet paper, paper towels and Clorox wipes — while shopping in the North Hills on Monday.

"I don't know if I'm panic buying or just being proactive," said Damico.

Damico told KDKA that pushing her shopping cart past aisles of bare shelves made her want to buy items.

"I was in Target on Saturday. It was pretty busy and the shelves were really bare. It made me nervous," said Damico.

Empty Shelves
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

KDKA shopped around the North Hills to see what the supply was like. The cleaning supplies were dwindling inside some stores, and the paper product aisles had basically been flushed away.

To combat the issue, retailers like Target are now limiting some high-demand items to one per customer.

"I think them putting restrictions on buying is a good way to try and alleviate that stress of, I have to panic and buy," said Damico.

Giant Eagle has also been bracing for a surge of shoppers.

A company spokesperson said each location has been receiving daily deliveries of household and grocery items. The company has been strengthening partnerships with current suppliers and working with new and alternate suppliers to maintain a strong stock position.

And to ensure things remain this way, the company said in a statement that "as we enter an uncertain holiday season, we encourage our guests to help one another by continuing their traditional grocery shopping and refrain from buying in bulk."

There are currently no purchase limits for Giant Eagle stores. But the grocery store chain is closely monitoring inventory of household essentials and will consider implementing those limits when necessary.

So why do people panic buy? UPMC psychiatrist Robert Hudak calls it the manifestation of anxiety.

"The fear part of the brain, called the amygdala, will override the cortex of the brain, which does the thinking. So I will not be surprised to see a run on items and some empty shelves again," Dr. Hudak said.

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