I've worked in the grocery business for 10 years. I've done it all. Cashiering, online shopping, over night pack out, and currently inventory and ordering. I work with all departments. I have a general knowledge of many things. We've been run ragged, but I'm off today so AMA about product shortages and why they're happening, how we order, current Corona policies, and what's going on behind the scenes.

Proof: https://imgur.com/gallery/8owsKLX

Edit: We've starting doing essential product availability on our Facebook.

Availability https://imgur.com/gallery/8owsKLX

Comments: 95 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

MuckinwithaG15 karma

Got toilet paper? Got sanitizer? Got milk?

GrocerycoronaTA28 karma

We had a shipment of paper come in yesterday after having none for two days. We got two boxes of hand sanitizer a couple days ago, none for two weeks before that, and none since. Cow's milk hasn't been an issue, but anything fancy, nutmilk, organic, etc is coming in dribbles.

UPDATE: The paper that came in yesterday at 330 PM was sold out within hours. We're out again today.

filbertsnuts11 karma

Nutmilk coming in dribbles lol

GrocerycoronaTA17 karma

Thank you for commenting on the nutmilk. I love working with the nutmilk because then I get to say nutmilk. Since you said nutmilk now I get to say nutmilk. Glorious.

bowreality9 karma

got flour? (r/breadit wants to know!)

GrocerycoronaTA7 karma

Depends on the brand, but hasn't been an issue as a whole.

brizzopotamus4 karma

Got steak, ho? Got cheese?

GrocerycoronaTA3 karma

We're out of chicken and ground meat today with limited red meat. Cheese hasn't been an issue (except for shredded). I think people just eat a ton of cheese all the time.

SoHereIAm855 karma

This sounds just like my local Shoprite.

You guys have been better stocked with certain items I buy in the past week than in the past two months, lol. (It was getting frustrating to try getting my weekly groceries and not be able to get key ingredients for maths meals I planned or backup meals.) Shower thought is that maybe I buy less popular stuff?

I used to do ordering for a deli department, so I understand it’s a very interesting and balanced situation.

GrocerycoronaTA1 karma

We still have a lot of stuff. It's just not what people want. As one customer put it "Only the gross (frozen) vegetables are left."

YoMomsHubby12 karma

Do you know of any sketchy scenarios of employees hiding/taking things in shortage?

GrocerycoronaTA19 karma

Nothing sketchy. Employees have been grabbing a thing here or there at the beginning of their shift. One of our overnight guys bought four of the twelve bottles of hand sanitizer that came in and redistributed them to other employees.

infinitevalence5 karma

Get that guy a raise!

GrocerycoronaTA11 karma

Wish I could. Not only because he's considerate and works his ass off. He's my boyfriend. Haha.

rvkGSDlover6 karma

OK, well then, give him that other kind of "raise". ;-)

GrocerycoronaTA18 karma

Steak and blow job day was last week.

Anneisabitch10 karma

When do you expect to be caught up enough to have stuff on the shelves longer than 10 minutes?

GrocerycoronaTA26 karma

We have no idea. This is completely unprecedented. Our usual grocery load, not including specialty items (personal care or specialty products, just dry edibles and paper products) is 1000-3000 pieces (cases). We've been receiving half that or less. Our deliveries are four days behind now on top of that. We've come together and speculated that it would take a 20,000 piece load to restock our shelves to normalcy. Note this is JUST grocery. It doesn't include any other department such as dairy or frozen which are getting hit just as hard.

abhikavi5 karma

Are the delivery delays just caused by the sudden volume increase across the board?

GrocerycoronaTA11 karma

Volume increase, yes. They just can't cut down trees and cut up cows fast enough. The product being unavailable is also resulting in smaller deliveries so more trips to distribute the same amount of product.

GrocerycoronaTA6 karma

Another part of this is that they are limiting orderable quantities so that each store gets some of what's available. We are in turn limiting what customers can buy which has been a joy to deal with.

NerdEnPose1 karma

Are these figure per week, per day, or?

GrocerycoronaTA3 karma

Per day with a day or two of no deliveries is standard.

Norgeroff8 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

GrocerycoronaTA8 karma

Blue and white.

todumbtorealize7 karma

Are you hiring people now? Has the interview process changed at all?

GrocerycoronaTA10 karma

We're hiring. No changes.

steffiliz4 karma

I was at a produce stand in Northern California, and the checkers had customers place produce on the scale and bag it themselves. Items with a price tag were held up for the checker to see. They also wore rubber gloves. Are you taking similar precautions?

GrocerycoronaTA8 karma

We've always provided bags in our produce department. Using them is up to the customer.

Our cashiers are wearing gloves, but that's just for show. It does nothing to prevent the spread in between customers as they handle cash, product, etc.

We are offering an senior (60+) and immunocompromised hour from 7 AM-8 AM every morning.

Shout out to our maintenance staff for running around refilling cart wipes, paper towels, and soap!

GrocerycoronaTA7 karma

We also have a no returns policy in place so that product isn't going god knows where and back into the store.

DNA_ligase2 karma

If this extends longer, will Shoprite stop doing its Can-Can sale?

GrocerycoronaTA4 karma

Depends are where we at that point. We're just trying to get thru the day at this point.

Robo-boogie2 karma

are you noticing that the price of goods are going up due to the panic buying?

GrocerycoronaTA3 karma

Nothing going up any faster than it already was.

TheBeeLow2 karma

How’s that social distancing working out? Are shoppers attempting to stay six feet apart?

GrocerycoronaTA3 karma

Ha. No not at all. The store has also been so crowded that it's impossible.

andygates23232 karma

Some shops are putting big red spots on the floor as a guide to help people queue at a distance. Is yours?

GrocerycoronaTA3 karma

I saw this today and I love the idea. This could work for us, sometimes. There's times of day when the lines are just a giant blob of people. There's so many people that there isn't space to give each other space.

What would help with this: limit the amount of people in the store. We could lower our maximum capacity.

Ideally we would switch to pick up only. It's entirely feasible and the sooner, the better.

ryanstartedthefyre2 karma

Is there anything we can do to help ease the shortages?

GrocerycoronaTA19 karma

Also don't try to get around item limits. We have a one/two item limit on certain products. Some people have doing what they can to get around them. Attempting to have each one of your elementary age children buy a 20 pack of Scott is not cool and we're on to you, Karen.

GrocerycoronaTA16 karma

Stop buying things. Stop buying things in immense quantities. Use what you have already. Only buy what you need.

bezznef1 karma

I found these Mamitas Coconut Cream Ice pop things and bought them for a few weeks from Shoprite and then they up and disappeared. It was so fleeting. They were so good though, can I ask my shoprite to order them again??

GrocerycoronaTA4 karma

You can ask your Shoprite to reorder them. If you still have the barcode, provide that for them. It makes our job a whole lot easier. Keep in mind the product you want could have been a one off (we get product accidentally sometimes) or discontinued.

I'll see if I can find anything out as far as availability for you when I go to work tomorrow.

mojojojo311 karma

What's the business model at your grocery? Are shelves "rented" by producers? Or is it up to the grocery to order products and sell it at a markup? Any good website where I could learn about the grocery business model?

GrocerycoronaTA1 karma

We have a combination of both, but more and shelf footage is being bought up by manufacturers. If anyone was wondering why we have SO much space for Tide and General Mills cereal. That's why. Sorry I don't have any resources for you. I'd be glad to answer any questions that I can.

Junebug781 karma

What is the weak point in the system currently?

GrocerycoronaTA3 karma

Getting the product from the manufacturers to the warehouses. There just isn't any because no one was expecting this.

Muzikwrighter1 karma

Are there any plans to provide workers with face masks to help prevent the spread of the virus?

GrocerycoronaTA5 karma

Not that I know of. Cashiers are wearing gloves, but that's just for show.

poppop_n_theattic1 karma

Have you seen any indication that there could be long-term disruption in supply?

GrocerycoronaTA4 karma

That would be a question for the manufacturers.

From what I've seen, it depends how long this lasts. Our business has actually started to slow down (except for first thing in the morning). If we can get back to our usual customer volume/cart size, I don't see it being a long term shortage.

groggboy1 karma

If it’s have to resort to canabilism, should I eat my neighbor that looks delishious or the one that bitches about my yard not being nice enough? Also should I use a dry rub, or bbq sauce.

GrocerycoronaTA1 karma

The one who bitches about your yard. Looks can be deceiving. Your delicious looking neighbor might eat corned beef and kimchi for every meal. I personally enjoy some Monteal Chicken low sodium seasoning on long pig.

-CaptainOfChaos-1 karma

What is a detail about the grocery business that is overlooked but extremely important?

GrocerycoronaTA2 karma

Just how much overnight stockers do. That schedule is tough and they do a majority of the stocking for the entire store.

AnarKitty-Esq1 karma

Joke question: Why is the S Philly Shop Rite such a shit show at the best of times?

Semi-serious: What is the difference between Fresh Grocer and Shop Rite? They're a mile apart physically, FG sells SR products but the prices vary wildly.

Serious: What kind of pull do you have getting products in heavy demand? Are you laughed off the phone from suppliers because Amazon is getting all of it, or do they take a mid-size grocer serious?

GrocerycoronaTA2 karma

I wish I had better information for you.

We're individually owned. I know nothing about the Philly store.

Really no difference. Just like sometimes when you buy the generic, it's the same as the big brand name. Not the same throughout the line, but very similar.

We don't have that kind of pull with suppliers. During normal times yes, they love to work with us for special placement. Right now everyone is so inundated with work. That it's mostly order what you can, get whatever you get, and try to retain some sort of normalcy.

Zielko1 karma

How much mayo?

GrocerycoronaTA4 karma

We have enough mayo that we can still use it as an instrument.

itzfritz1 karma

Your images are all gone, did you yank them? /u/GrocerycoronaTA

GrocerycoronaTA2 karma

Fixed!

justmejess11131 karma

How would you recommend slowing the supply rush to distribute product more evenly?

GrocerycoronaTA2 karma

People buy less and buy alternatives. We're not having a shortage of fish or ingredients to make things from scratch. For paper products, people simply have to stop hoarding.

justmejess11131 karma

Thank you! Maybe we need to teach people to cook. ;)

GrocerycoronaTA1 karma

Wish all this time at home and YouTube? I'd say it's a great opportunity.

NCTrumpFan1 karma

What item always sells out the fastest, and what is a good substitute for it?

GrocerycoronaTA2 karma

The stuff on the left side of this chart and frozen vegetables have been the hardest to keep in stock.

The right side excluding the frozen vegetables are what we're encouraging for alternatives. Our seafood manager is totally ok with the meat shortages.

https://imgur.com/gallery/aADRq8H

Alternatives: make stuff from scratch. We have tons of ingredients. We might not have bread but we have everything you need to make it yourself.

Note: We have a lot in general. It's just not what people want. As one customer put it jokingly "Only the gross (frozen) vegetables are left."

Momsome1 karma

Have you seen shoppers hoarding cat litter? This is the one item that had empty shelves in my local Kroger for my last two trips. Everything else is stocked. Not sure if cat litter is a hoarded item in other areas or stores.

GrocerycoronaTA6 karma

Quite the opposite, at least my store.

I've been encouraging people to get cat litter. I picked up an extra myself. If I run out of TP, I'll figure it out. If my cat doesn't have a place to piss, my laundry basket will do just fine.

alsaway1 karma

Do you know what your operations folk are doing for planning and scheduling?

GrocerycoronaTA2 karma

They've been very tight lipped about any future plans. When I asked, the response was "We have conference calls every day at 4." So informative.

We as a whole are essential workers, but they're not going need all 350 of us if we move to a more intense lock down. We won't need a catering manager or a dietitian. We won't need as many people to do things in general. As to what they're going to do about that, no idea.

xhfccd0 karma

How big is yo dick?

GrocerycoronaTA1 karma

I have an innie.

iamjosh308-10 karma

Will you push through for the good of the nation? USA is a-okay!

GrocerycoronaTA13 karma

Nope. I'm doing it to afford liquor so I can tolerate my job so I can afford liquor so I can tolerate my job...

filbertsnuts-1 karma

Do you work for a part of the co-op that has liquor stores? Do you get a discount with them if you do?

GrocerycoronaTA3 karma

We don't have liquor stores in ours. I do know that we don't get discounts on groceries so I'm going to guess definitely not on liquor.

filbertsnuts1 karma

I used to work for one of the groups and they claimed if we got a discount then so would everyone in the chain. I was trying to see if that was true as we didn’t get a discount on anything.

GrocerycoronaTA1 karma

Discounts are up to the individual owners discretion.