Okanagan shelves wiped bare of toilet paper

COVID-19 concerns have residents in a mad rush to stock up on toilet paper, hand santizer, wipes

A sign above a couple empty pallets, once containing toilet paper, asks customers to limit their purchases March 7 at the Vernon Walmart. (Danni Van der Molen photo)

Toilet paper is being picked off shelves faster than stores can order it.

Several Okanagan grocery stores have seen their shelves wiped bare of the paper product.

“With the coronavirus, sales have increased and spiked for us,” a Kelowna Costco employee said.

The same goes for Vernon’s Buy-Low Foods, where 130 cases were brought in over the weekend and now, they are all gone.

“I’ve never seen toilet paper go like this,” assistant manager Darrell Camalush said.

While Buy-Low managed to keep some of the product on shelves, that was not the case at Walmart, Real Canadian Superstore and Wholesale Club, which were completely sold out over the weekend.

“I just want one bag,” said Danni Van der Molen, a mother of four who went to several stores before finally finding some at Save-On-Foods.

Product has since been replenished, although it appears to be picked up as quickly as stores can bring it in.

Toilet paper isn’t the only thing being scooped up by the masses.

Rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are other priority purchases.

Camalush says his store can’t even get any rubbing alcohol in.

And despite ordering 20 different kinds of hand sanitizer, on March 7 the store only had eight bottles come in and within 15 minutes they were sold out.

“The only one we still have left is the local stuff, the Back to Earth,” Camalush said.

He’s ordered more of each of the products, but isn’t sure if he will even get them as suppliers are feeling the demand.

The same goes for medical suppliers in Vernon, who are struggling to keep masks and sanitation products on the shelves amid growing coronavirus concerns.

READ MORE: Masks sold out in Vernon amid growing COVID-19 concerns

Meanwhile, Camalush always keeps a back-up stock of toilet paper, and like others, he is adjusting ordering to meet the demand, which one retail giant says is declining.

“It’s starting to taper off here,” said the Costco employee, who wished not to be named.

The situation is much more intense in the Lower Mainland, where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday, March 9, the province’s first fatality was a patient of a North Vancouver care home and the number of confirmed cases in B.C. has risen to 32.

The situation has also prompted the cancellation of a North Okanagan school field trip to Italy and a global convention in Mexico, and delayed a number of other events.

READ MORE: B.C. up to 32 coronavirus cases, one care home resident has died

READ MORE: Sun Life cancels convention amid COVID-19 concerns


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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Toilet paper shelves are bare at Vernon’s Real Canadian Superstore on Saturday, March 7. (Danni Van der Molen photo)

Buy-Low assistant manager Darrell Camalush scans toilet paper tags for re-order as supplies dwindle at the Vernon store amid coronavirus concerns. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

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