Production bottlenecks could cause some bare shelves at brick-and-mortar retailers within 60 to 90 days, retail analysts warn.
Coronavirus has the potential to become a global pandemic, temporarily emptying retail store shelves in the coming months and depressing some consumer-facing businesses, experts say, with government officials advising families to take measured steps to stock up on certain essentials.
A pandemic is the rapid spread of an infectious disease to a large amount of people in a short period of time across international boundaries.
Ahead of any pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security says families should check their prescription drug supplies, store two-week supplies of water and food and have non-prescription drugs and health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, cough and cold medicines and fluids with electrolytes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend that consumers buy masks, saying they should instead focus on regular hand-washing. The only people who would benefit from masks are those exhibiting symptoms, to help prevent them from transmitting the virus, and front-line health care workers.
Panicked hoarding could create shortages of otherwise sustainable supplies in a self-fulfilling “run on the bank” scenario. In one Italian town, videos showed panicked shoppers trading blows and stripping shelves of pasta and other staples.