Are Your Grocery Store Shelves Suddenly ‘Thinning’ Or Empty ? #Ebola


The question is, Have you noticed ‘any’ thinning (or empty shelf sections) of certain foods at your local grocery store?

This is a question for you based on what may simply be a coincidental experience today at our local grocery store – or it may be a sign that more people are stocking up on food because of the Ebola virus scare – and affecting our JIT (just in time) food distribution system.

Mrs.J noticed today while at the grocery store topping off a few food supplies, she noticed that there were some foods that were not there on the shelves (empty shelf sections) – or there were only one or two left in that section of shelves.

More specifically, she noticed that the rice was gone. Empty shelf section. None. She also noticed that there were literally only two (1 pound) bags of dry beans left on the shelf where there normally are plenty of beans and variety thereof. While looking in the canned meats aisle, she noticed that there was only one can of SPAM left.

While this may be coincidental, I’m wondering if any of you are noticing any thinning of grocery store food inventory on the shelves where you live?

Given that ‘rice and beans’ (and SPAM) are stereotypical preparedness foods, and given that these foods were gone or nearly gone today at our local grocery store, I thought it VERY interesting. Are more people ‘prepping’? Is this because of Ebola? Or is it an anomaly?

If and when YOU notice any empty shelves or unusual thinning of food inventory in your area, let the rest of us know (comment below).

Just curious…

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  1. Not so much food, however the N95 face masks were gone from the local walmart pharmacy area. There were a couple left in the hardware paint section. They still had 5 100ct boxes of medical gloves left.

    1. It might be an anomaly here in our very small town area – but I have been reading various reports that (not surprisingly) many (new) people have recently been becoming more prepared (new preppers) since the Ebola outbreak. It stands to reason that some of the JIT inventory ‘norms’ might become disrupted with heavier demand.

      Like I said in a previous article,

      “Quietly” go out and top off your food and preps

      I suspect that it won’t be real obvious (shortages) until real panic sets in – ‘if’ we get more Ebola cases here in the U.S.

      1. Also in a small NH town. We only have one real grocery store here, and it routinely runs low. If you have any other stores that also sell groceries–i.e. Big Lots, Ocean State, etc. I would check those and see what they look like.

        One thing I have noticed often lately is online merchants running low. Walmart, in particular, disturbs me. I don’t normally shop there, but since they have free shipping, will order online. It’s the norm now for them to be “sold out online”, only have a couple of an item in stock, or more annoyingly, to delay several items in an order after it has been processed.

        This wasn’t true when I first ordered from them. I’ve also noticed that previously affordable shelf stable foods and supplies on Amazon are much more expensive, and often not available. (I’m mostly talking food and consumables, not things like Hazmat suits or respirators.)

  2. I can’t say as we haven’t been to a grocery store in about a week and a half now. Plan on going Sunday morning, early before people start showing. The store restocks overnight, so we’ll see if there are empty shelves at that time.

  3. Last week I went to walmart to stock up on bleach and bottled water. There was NO Clorox, completely cleared out. There were other brands, but they were thinned out as well. I’d say more than half their entire bleach section was gone.

    Same with the gallon jugs of bottled water. About 3/4 of ALL of their gallon bottled water was gone.

    Then yesterday I went to Dollar Tree to stock up more. Almost all of their 3-packs of hand sanitizer were gone. I took the last of them, around five boxes. I also took the last 3 boxes of medical face masks that they had.

    After my walmart trip and then the Dollar Tree trip, at first I told myself, “surely this has got to just be a coincidence. Surely people are not stocking up or prepping.” Because honestly, I never gave the general public enough credit to do something proactive like this since most of them are a bunch of liberals in denial. But, I think it’s too much of a coincidence. I really think people are secretly stocking up.

    1. Thanks for your report. This is what I’m curious about – what others are seeing. My gut tells me that more than just ‘some’ people are concerned about this (Ebola) and may be ‘quietly’ preparing…

      1. Wal Mart sells two packs of shelf brackets in their limited hardware supply area. I have been buying them over the years as I add new shelving to my “prepper storage area”. I have noticed at three different Wal Mart’s in the metro area near my undisclosed bunker location that they are constantly sold out over the past couple months. Only thing I can think of is that more people are also on board with prepping and putting in shelving to accommodate preps.

  4. Three stores I visited recently were out of N95 masks. Water was well stocked. I visited one grocery store with beans completely wiped out. The only beans left were butter beans. Rice was well stocked.

  5. I went to the store this morning and stock was just being delivered , very little was brought in and the shelves were pretty full . So either people locally aren’t worried or have no interest in having stock on hand , lots of everything here .

  6. Had a talk with 2 different neighbors about Ebola. Both are going shopping for canned goods this weekend and know others who are going to do the same.

    My favorite cashier at our local Wally World told me last week that she has been seeing more canned Chili/Soups/Spam sold than ever before.

  7. WalMart shelves have been thin for a few months now. They seem to be out of lots of things and the things they do have are often in odd sizes — packages are too big or too small — or odd brands. Our Walmart is in a town of about 9,500 people 60 miles away.

    The small grocery store in my town still seems to be well-stocked. We have 1,800 people in our town and one grocery store, plus a convenience store.

  8. We have to go to Costco and our local mega-cheap supermarket this weekend. I’ll keep an eye peeled for scarcity. Those stores are ALWAYS STACKED with food, etc.

    If anyone is interested, check out the Andrew Wilkow show. He’s standing up and telling the naysayers to take a flying leap over snarky remarks about him telling people to stock up at least soup and water. I hope some of his listeners are the new preppers that are stocking up!

  9. That’s one way to make the people spend again, Ebola = food sales, and lots of them. But better safe than sorry.

  10. Went to Costco in Ft Worht yesterday, all the food was well stocked. Today I went to Walmart, and HEB in my town which is 40 mi South of Ft Worth, everything looked well stocked. Plenty of beans/rice, canned soups/meats dry pastas. Frozen foods looked normal. Many kinds of bottled water to choose from. Lots of Coleman fuel/charcoal. Everything on my “preps top off list” was easily found and bought. Fuel is 2.85 a gal here also.

  11. I ordered Masks from Amazon… 3 different brands of N95, goggles, med gloves, and a life straw, (just because), and all came except for 1 box of masks… (On backorder).

  12. Nationally, the number of Americans concerned that Ebola will shoot through the population is skyrocketing. According to a Wednesday poll by the Harvard School of Public Health, 52 percent of Americans surveyed said they believe the country will experience a large outbreak in the coming year, while 38 percent said they believed they or a family member would be infected.

  13. Obama’s New Ebola ‘Czar’ Does Not Have Medical, Health Care Background

    WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) Facing renewed criticism of his handling of the Ebola risk, Obama will make Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, his point man on fighting Ebola at home and in West Africa. Klain will report to national security adviser Susan Rice and to homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco, the White House said.

    Klain does not have a medical or a health care background.

  14. I did notice that neither WalMart nor Kmart had any batteries. Walmart was completely out except for hearing aid batteries, Kmart was the same situation 2 weeks in a row.

  15. well haven’t noticed too much on stock on shelves, but I do believe folks are not frequenting the grocery stores as much as usual.

    two days ago went to two different grocery stores, usually would have had trouble finding parking, it was half empty.

    tonight went to a different grocery store, again, usually full parking lot, this one two thirds empty.

  16. been to a few stores this week . ( Just South of Raleigh NC) Stores well stocked. No one that I know has talked about stocking up and only a couple show concern for any crisis. Most people seem to be totally ignorant of anything going on. Makes me think, I am wrong or are they in denial? Guess time will have to tell

  17. My local Wal Mart is always out of underwear in my size. The ebola scare?

    Are people REALLY that terrified of ebola??? I guess it’s working.

  18. I went to Wal-Mart Wednesday after work and the dry bean shelf was almost bare. Lots of rice still. I noticed a few other things that were thin but overall the store was still pretty well stocked. I did go to the local grocery store on Monday and noticed that the 2 1/5 gal jugs of water were thin.

  19. Well this is odd. I’m about an hour by car east of Dallas. Went to the local chain grocery store & found plenty of food. Rice & beans were a little thin. That’s normal around here on payday. Beer section had a few holes in it as well. But all in all, it was a normal stocking level. A few of the better sale items were sold out. Again, normal. But me & the DW stocked up. $200 for 2 people with $60+ in coupons should last a while.
    But not what I would expect considering the press coverage. The cashier knows me as a regular. She saw the cart & said “Stocking up again?” I replied with some inane comment about being called back to work & played it off…. But I think I’ll go bag a wild pig or two this week. Just in case I need the meat.

    1. Sounds like I’m about an hour east of toolrat. I just got back from our local Albertsons and it looked well stocked. Canned meats, beans and rice shelves all looked full. Took advantage of a couple of sales to stock up, anyway.

      Mama’s canning the last of the green beans from the fall garden as I type. Next she’ll make bread from hard white wheat. We’ll be making jelly from some left over cherry and black raspberry cider as well. I’ll also be smoking a couple of chickens and pork tenderloin.

      Gonna be a good day.

  20. Things are OK here in WA state.Stores all seem well stocked. But everyone thinks I am insane because I am concerned about Ebola. I am not saying a word to anyone anymore about my concerns. I am well stocked but really hoped some of my friends would want to be prepared. Not a chance, apparently I am the crazy one. I’ve been laughed at and made fun of because of my preparedness. I’m tired of trying to tactfully spread my hope of preparedness except to my family. I’m praying they are right and I am wrong, even though I am the only one I know that’s prepared for a long term quarantine.

    1. Tammie
      I am not sup-prized that the people that you talk to are not panicking on Ebola. while we as preppers may focus on certain things that doesn’t mean the rest of the world does. I am sure we have sports fans on this site that can’t understand that since I have no interest in following sports I don’t even know who would be playing this week let alone their position ect. While in my opinion you should do whatever you feel is right for you and yours I personally think a handful of cases of Ebola in a country of 350 million is a little premature to start thinking about quarantine for my family. That said here in Northern Cal I have not noticed any shortages on the store shelves. I was at Costco last week and they had pallets of beans and rice as usual. My local grocery was full as normal and while I don’t shop a lot at Walmart I was there yesterday to pick up some medication and saw no problem there.

  21. I swing by almost every other day on my ipad. Two days ago multiple items in the “emergency” page were sold out. Things like long term freeze dried stuff and one year food supplies. I told my wife that it was strange as that stuff is never sold out. Check it out online.

  22. Several churches here in the Reno, NV area have been advising their congregations to stock up. You’d have to figure in groups of 200-300, at least 15-30 would heed that call, if not more. 30 x 15 churches is 450 locals out grabbing stuff.

    I’ve not seen much short-stocked though. Got a bunch of water from Sam’s Club the other day, and ordered some other top-off stuff online.

  23. I have been to several grocery stores, Walmart, Sam’s Etc. Everything was stocked as it should be, nothing out that was noticeable. But no doubt this would change should more cases of Ebola be announced. So far I am keeping informed, but I am not going to worry unless a few more people get it, and if it is found in people in other states. I have enough stuff for a while, but does anybody have enough if Ebola really does take off? It might never be eradicated. I don’t know what animals can carry it, but if one of those animals gets infected here, lets say a rat, then there will be no controlling it. It will travel around in the rat population, and rats are in populated areas, and there would be cases constantly popping up and how many people have a lifetime worth of food. The only thing that would stop it would be a cure or vaccine. But if people wanted to get awareness, deck out in a hazmat suit and go shopping at a grocery store. This would freak some people out.

  24. I went to our local Sam’s club here in Northern IL and there was almost no Tuna. Completely sold out of the premium “white in water” tuna and very little left of other variations. That was the only noticeable difference. They did have a huge pallet of canned chicken at the end of the isle.

    1. I’d consider the well-stocked stores are because the inventory staffers know what is happening and watch the news and prepare for these events??
      These people are paid to know what sells when and where to keep consumers in their store and not the competition.

  25. First off, I was recently at 3 different stores and the only thing that I noticed that was out was the 20# bags of white rice. Also at least two of the stores I went to Spam was on sale. The stores were full of people and supplies. I do believe that some of the things that disappear off the shelfs (possibly masks or other medical supplies) for around here is the fact that the weather is turning and cold and flu season is fast approaching. While I do think how the feds are handeling Ebola is dumb, in a way it’s helping the prepper community. I think Ebola is way too slow moving for any real widespread damage, but it is getting people to start thinking about the what if’s. The only people that know about my preps is my family, but people that work with my wife said they were going to stock up on canned goods because of all this Ebola stuff. Maybe Ebola is getting people to think about the possibilities that bad things are going to happen, and probably in our lifetime. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ebola was just a dress rehersal for Russia/China/ISIS/Name your own bad guy to see how unprepared and inept our government really is. In fact I believe that this week and probably the next few weeks in general would be great times to attack our country. The stock market has been tanking, Ebola is freaking people out, People are thinking about the holidays, The military is smaller, and the average person has stopped worrying about buying bullets.

  26. Just an FYI…..back during the year I couponed, I found out that Walmart purposefully removes things from shelves that are set to be hot items. In the couponing case, if an item with coupon is set to go out the door free, they would remove them from the shelves, or reduce their numbers on the shelves. I imagine Walmart is doing something similar in this case. :)

  27. It pays to shop around. For those not familiar with Fred Meyers they are a chain of retail stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. Comparable to Wally World but on a smaller scale. We call shopping there going to Freddie’s.

    Good prices on some things, bad prices on others. Location seems to make a big difference. In our case they are 30 miles away and just across the state border. Gas is always 25 to 30 cents a gallon cheaper so it’s worthwhile shopping there. Point of this ramble is Bear Creek dehydrated soup mixes. They are a great prep item. They make a lot of soup and if you throw in a cup of rice, beans or noodles will feed 2 for 4 or 5 days, maybe a week. Price at Wall Mart was $3.33 a package. Freddie’s was “on Sale” at $4.99. Big stores like Lowes and Home Depot also seem to have a lot of variation in price by locality. I put up a chain link fence last summer and the local Home Depot ran out of 6 foot fence poles. I found them in the Medford area at their Lowes and Home Depot for 2 dollars more per post. Caveat Emptor. It would be interesting if anybody In the Grants Pass area would check at the Freddies and Wally World there for current prices on the soups.

  28. Big Lots has Bear Creek soups for $3–but the only one I have found that beats homemade so far is Cheddar Broccoli and even then I add freeze dried broccoli or frozen broccoli to it. It is really good and a great bargain at that price. One package lasts me a week for lunches.

  29. So which is it:- Everyone else is a clue sheep, or people pay attention and prepare? Thats the aim of this site right, to encourage people to be self reliant? You should be happy that people are expanding their food reserves.

  30. I just received this message about an order of dried foods I placed yesterday: “Thank you for placing your order with Augason Farms. Due to the unexpected increase in demand and the unforeseen national health crisis, your order should ship within 2 weeks, up to 4 weeks.”

    1. The MREs on Amazon are sold out or nearly so…the military ones at least. Not sure about the copies.

  31. Wednesday night at a Trader Joe’s in San Diego. Produce shelves were stripped. Also, the shelves over the frozen food section were almost empty, and many of the staple items were missing. (Cans and jars).

    Stopped by the 99cents store to get water and noticed along the front row just as you enter, they had palettes of bottled water, bleach, tin foil, and toilet paper. Kind of an interesting combo.

  32. On the flipside, if you wanted to hasten marshall law because ebola, porous borders and other tools were not working quickly enough, food shortages may help. What’s that old saying….we’re only three meals away from revolution / chaos?

  33. Beth is right, I have a friend that is a manager for Walmart and he has told me the same thing. Also walmart is slowly replacing the brand stuff name with brands that they own at least 51% of. All produce comes from fields they own and the deli meat is their brand.

    On a side note I do work for a major hospital where I live. In fact we have 3 only about 2 blocks from each other. And when I ask about Ebola I am told don’t worry and we are prepared and it is not as bad as it is made out to be? This scares the crap out of me that 3 major hospitals don’t have any clue.

  34. Today my local groc. store was loaded to the hilt because Mon. starts their 2 wk case lot sale. Therefore items on sale are piled everywhere. No one will buy $15 sugar when Mon. they can get it for $10. A truck load of sale items came in today. Of couse the Canadian prairies is a log way from Dallas so there is lots of conversation but no panic yet.

  35. It’s easy to see shelves of pre-made everything in stores, instead look for the gaps and missing products.

    I’ve seen all of the following gone just in the last week: certain type/bottle size of bleach, a couple of brands of rice, tuna in oil, first aid supplies and any bigger bags of dried beans.

    It’s safe to say if your local suppliers are out of p95/p-n100 masks and tyvek suits, they aren’t getting them any time soon. Gloves are still around, get some.

  36. That is funny. I am not far from the schools that closed. But stores are full and people are out and about as if nothing is happening. Even though locals are speaking out on social media, you would never know going out. Everything is crowded. They even flew a patient into a local hospital because they fit the criteria. Now they have decided NOT to even test the patient for Ebola. I cannot understand the stupidity.

  37. This morning in Walmart, hand sanitizer wipes completely gone. I asked a worker in the aisle if they had any left. She checked and said they are on order but a couple of days away. Sanitizer cleaning wipes completely gone. Non-scented Clorox completely gone. Still some bottles of store brand left. 20 pound bags of rice, gone. Plenty of the smaller bags left. Spam very low, out of several flavors. Canned soups were bare in spots, same with canned fruits. Vegetables lean but no bare spots. Plenty of water. Forgot to check the dried beans, but canned beans were hit but not hard, no bare spots. Canned tomatoes all varieties were low with several bare spots. We got there pretty early after everything had been re-stocked overnight, and very few people in the store yet.

  38. Local small town grocery here, the shelf with all of the dry bagged items like rice and beans was full. Out of a double stack of pinto beans there was one bag missing. Don’t know if it was just stocked or the sheeple around here are waiting for their ebt cards to refill.

  39. The Walmart by my house in Tallahassee is eerily out of water completely and bananas and many dried goods. It made my husband and I wonder if we should be stocking up for a worldwide outbreak too! AND to top it off, Walmart said they weren’t even sure when the items would be replenished…. We got the last 2 cases of water.

  40. A coworker told me yesterday that they were finally starting to prep! Which is good news for people you care about but also reveals the concern is greater now and new people are paying attention.

  41. Things here seem pretty normal so far. I just placed our winter grocery order (ouch) so we will be good till the end of March if things do go bad. If not, we will still be well stocked for winter. I have only had 1 person mention they are concerned about an outbreak, outside of our couple friends.

  42. I’ve noticed the opposite actually. about a month ago things were a little thin. This weekend there were TONS of rice, beans & other traditional stock up items.

  43. I’ve definitely noticed the shelves are empty, and stores are also remodeling to wider aisle (less general shelving space). I travel a lot and have seen this across the country. Whats more, I have a nephew who is a long-time independent trucker. He recently told me that it is getting harder and harder to get good paying loads, despite the decrease in fuel prices.

  44. Southern Illinois-No granulated sugar, domino or generic, at wal mart, 4 bags at dollar general. worker at wal mart said hadn’t had a shipment in several weeks. What’s up?

  45. A lot of articles encourage stockpiling so I have heeded the warnings. I do not subscribe to being an alarmist but I do want to be prepared and self reliant. While I’m quietly perusing fully stocked shelves, no matter the store – Krogers, Albertson’s or Walmart, there are no shortages. It seems I am the only who is “fear shopping”. I’m not complaining nor bragging.

    Perhaps my fears are unfounded but better safe than sorry. All stores are FULLY stocked; day or night, Sunday thru Saturday. Dallas shows no sign of shortages.

    Good luck, be well, be blessed.

  46. Writing this in yr 2016. Maybe its because its summer but I’ve noticed in walmart & Food lion, the shelves of water, all sizes are running very low.
    no problem at local Harris Teeter. TP is not running low at either store, that’s my concern cause we go thru lots at my home. No problem with any canned food or dry staples at any store so far. have had no problem getting charcoal fluid or charcoal. Odd, not many batteries in walmart.
    just thought I’d share. Oh & stores still have plenty dry & wet dog & cat food.

  47. It is June 28, 2016. I searched the computer for any information, as I have noticed a thinning of grocery shelfs for quite some time. Normal items that I have always bought are not there many times. Sometimes weeks go by before they show up again and something else can’t be found. I am wondering if it has something to do with the coming economic crash they have talked about. Less shipment comes into the stores and they order less?
    Maybe the people that know this is coming are stocking up on items?
    I’m not sure why, but I do know that it has been noticeable to me.

    1. It could be the supply is not meeting the demand for the shelves being bare. If it is every day items, lets say mayo, mustard, then yes I would be concerned.

      I’ll use Beefaroni for an example, where is it produce, here in the USA or over seas. If it is shipped in from a foreign country they are not letting the cargo containers go until they are full due to the cost of freight.

      That is why we recommend if you can put an extra can or two aside it is better for you and your budget. Next time the cost might be more than one can justify in their monthly budgets.

  48. About 3 weeks ago the least inexpensive sugar $1.88/4lb bag was all bought out. I just assumed I came on a day they hadn’t stocked yet. Yesterday I went to buy more the entire section except 6 of the name brand 4lb bags and maybe 3 of the 20 lb bags were left.

    1. Some products go extinct on the shelves as their size is decreased…and as products go out of date large whse that dictates the available products will run mega sale with 30% or so price reduction. It works like this…. they wait until the store has out of date product on shelf and store managers find suddenly they have none of the sale item on shelf… so they have to restock nd sometimes are throwing out the out of date products. If you are the one to find sometimes manager will allow someone to buy at a deep discount. Many of these items can be extended in life with deep freeze and oxygen free packaging..
      Last one I noted was size of pasta’s (some brands) dropped from 16 oz to 12. peanut butter dropped from 18 oz to 15.5 price stayed the same, container really look similar, easy to miss the downslide.
      also watch the difference in Cane Sugar (non GMO) and Beet sugar, which is labeled as grandulated sugar and is 90+ % GMO. makes name brand look pretty good. even with higher price.

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