‘Adequate Supplies’: Stores say no reason to hoard products

Shoppers at the H-E-B at the corner of Commerce Street and U.S. 77 Sunshine Strip get an early start to their day, lining up around the corner of the nearby strip mall. (Rick Kelley/Valley Morning Star)

HARLINGEN — City officials and store representatives are assuring the public there is no shortage of food and grocery stores are not going to run out of products.

“There isn’t any reason to panic,” Mayor Chris Boswell said Thursday.

“There’s not a scarcity of food. There’s adequate supply. There’s not going to be an interruption in the supply chain. They’re not going to run out of food. People have to return to normal buying.”

Like Boswell, H-E-B spokeswoman Linda Tovar stressed Thursday that the company is stocked to meet all of its customers’ needs.

“There’s already a panic. There shouldn’t be any,” she said. “We have adequate supplies in our warehouses.”

Tovar said many residents seem to believe the coronavirus outbreak will force H-E-B to close its stores.

“We’re going to be open. We’re not going to stop our store operations no matter what,” she said. “Don’t panic. We have sufficient supplies.”

For days, many residents have been scouring grocery stores, hoarding food and supplies like toilet paper as panic sets in amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Boswell is urging residents against hoarding food and supplies, stressing companies like H-E-B continue to distribute their products to stores.

Boswell said panic arising from the coronavirus outbreak seems to be driving residents to stockpile food and supplies.

Inside the stores, hoarders leave rows of shelves stripped empty.

Now, long lines of residents are snaking around H-E-B stores as the Texas grocery giant sets purchasing limits to give customers a chance to buy food and supplies.

“There’s no need to hoard,” Michael Dehart said as he and his children pushed a cart out of the H-E-B store on Morgan Boulevard at about noon Thursday.

“It’s very irresponsible of people. I understand people are scared. Why people are buying irrelevant things like toilet paper upsets me. It’s a little bit unwarranted. I’m glad they put a limit on things.”

On March 12, panic apparently began driving many residents to begin hoarding, stockpiling toilet paper and other paper products before gutting the shelves of staples like bread and packaged meats.

“There still seems to be hoarding of paper goods and canned goods and some poultry,” Boswell said. “People are swarming the paper goods.”

Many residents, he said, seem to believe the coronavirus outbreak could lead grocery stores to close or run out of food and supplies.

At H-E-B offices, Tovar said the company is setting new hours to give employees time to stock shelves before opening stores to lines of customers.

“Our customers were coming in at all hours and taking all the supplies,” she said.

Now, the company is opening its stores from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

During the day, stores try to stock up their shelves before opening their doors to lines of customers.

“We are working around the clock to get that merchandise to all our stores in Texas,” Tovar said.

Meanwhile, H-E-B is limiting purchases of meat products including chicken, ground beef and ground turkey to four items and supplies including toilet paper to two items.

“We’re asking everyone to help us,” Tovar said.