As the Covid pandemic continues, every day household items like hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and other cleaners are still hard to find in stores and online.
“People are still disinfecting their homes and wiping down everything,” explained Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants Hawaii. “Everybody is looking for Clorox wipes, disinfectants, and Lysol and things like that.”
She said people were ‘panic buying’ at the start of the pandemic and many people still have those items at home. Now, people are slowly starting to see items like toilet paper re-appear on shelves.
She said the shipping of these items to Hawaii was never impacted due to the pandemic.
“Everyone is allocated an allotment to where they’re going to ship to, so orders have been placed and every week these items have been coming into our state and distributed out to the various stores and retail locations,” she explained. “It’s not like the shipments have ever stopped, it just feels like there is less product only because the demand is higher right now.”
When the stores were sold out, and when people didn’t want to leave their homes, she said many turned to online shopping.
“For online sellers they set what their shipping costs are going to be, some of them are free, and we’ve seen up to $100 for a couple rolls of toilet paper, it’s just crazy what they’re setting their prices at,” Yamaki said.
And with the high demand, sometimes comes higher costs.
“We’ve heard some of the pricing has gone up and that’s more on the manufacturer part, not so much what the retailers are marking up, but you know if they have to buy it at a higher cost, we pass that cost down to the customers as well,” she said.
Yamaki said there are local social media pages that let people know where certain items are in stock, but she said buyer beware.
“We have heard some of the hoarders in the beginning are starting to re-sell at the Swap Meet and online and things like that, but if you’re buying online and you don’t really know who this third party vendor is, or you go buy from the back of someone’s car, or you don’t know who these people are it is a buyer beware,” she said.
As for when store shelves will be fully stocked of all supplies on a regular basis, store owners say that’s hard to predict.
“In some categories we do see the return of products to the shelves, items such as bath tissue has made a comeback, cleaners, certain cleaners such as Pine Sol are back in stock, but we’re still experiencing some shortages. In items such as aerosol, Lysol cans for example,” explained KTA Super Stores president Toby Taniguchi.
“I think the manufacturing or the supply chain will be increasing its supply, but right now it’s really difficult to provide you with a solid answer,” he said.