Normal shopping habits encouraged as Illinois grocers work to restock shelves

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By Greg Bishop

The Center Square

With Illinois restaurants closing dine-in service Monday night, more demand is expected at grocery stores.

Grocery stores in Illinois said Monday that they are ready to meet that demand, by encouraging consumers to take it easy.

President Donald Trump on Sunday said grocery stores were stocking shelves as fast as possible.

“They’re buying a lot of additional things to sell, but again, they actually have asked me to say ‘could you buy a little bit less, please,’ I thought I’d never hear that from a retailer,” Trump said.

Brian Jordan with the Illinois Food Retailers Association said the increased demand does strain the supply chain, but said shelves will be stocked.

“We just need to make sure that people respect one another and not hoard,” he said. “I do know some stores are now beginning to limit the number of items that can be purchased at one time.”

The state’s retail and manufacturing associations said consumers should maintain the regular shopping habits they had before the outbreak.

“It’s imperative for everyone to maintain their normal shopping routine to ensure the safety of our employees, fellow customers and your neighbors,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “IRMA has worked closely with state officials to ensure regulatory obstacles to restocking shelves are removed so consumers can access items they may need during this public health crisis.”

Karr said while restaurants were closed – only to allow window, curbside pickup and delivery – it was essential grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, pet supply and electronic shops remain open to the public.

“It’s important for Illinoisans to remain calm and understand that the food supply chain remains strong and robust,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

“Manufacturers are taking the appropriate safety steps to continue feeding Americans and populations across the world.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he had reached out to local governments “asking that they end their prohibitions on overnight grocery deliveries.”

“We’ve also reached out to the federal level asking them to change regulations to free up the flow of merchandise to warehouses and stores,” Pritzker said.

Jordan said one thing that would help grocery stores stock shelves faster was a waiver to increase weight limits on freight from 80,000 pounds to 88,000 pounds.

“Loads containing water and liquid-type items that really limit the number of cases that can go on the trucks,” he said.

Social media posts from throughout the state show empty shelves for a variety of staples, including toilet paper, cereal, canned goods and meats.

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