People Are Sharing Pictures of Empty Store Shelves Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
oilet paper shelves lay empty at a supermarket in Saugus, Massachusetts

Store shelves around the country are empty

If you’ve been inside a store recently, none of this is going to come as a complete shock — there is literally (said in a Chris Traeger voice) nothing in stock. As COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across the US (despite Trump calling it a hoax), people have been (understandably) stocking up on necessities but the outcome looks like something out of a horror film.

People from across the country are sharing pictures of empty shelves and grocery aisles and they are a sobering reminder of what is happening as the threat of this virus becomes more real by the hour. Early on, it seemed people were buying popular products like Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer in bulk but as time has gone on, it’s moved to things like toilet paper, canned goods, and other items with longer shelf lives.


AFP via Getty Images

Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Getty Images

“The first pic is of the disinfectant wipe section; I filled it yesterday when our delivery came in and it sold out in a couple hours,” one woman posted in part on Instagram next to an empty shelf of sanitizers.

“It’s not easy,” Jeffery Barnette, store director at the Steelyard Target told “We have people waiting at open.” I spoke with a woman at a Target in Minnesota yesterday who told me she was at a local Costco earlier in the day and there were at least 1,000 people waiting for the doors to open.

Julie Scagell

Julie Scagell

The fear of a possible quarantine is very real as schools and universities across the country close and as cases increase, being told to self-quarantine if we’ve been around someone who has tested positive. With test kits still not remotely meeting the demand of those needed, many others are choosing this option because it’s difficult to know if we’ve been in contact with someone when so very few have actually been tested.

Maria Guido

Some stores are putting much-needed limits on stocking piling items.

Many are understandably frustrated at the hoarding that is happening by some, as these staples are needed for everyone to stay safe — especially those in the elderly community and those who are immunocompromised. Most of us are following an appropriate buying level with this in mind, but many others are not. “When people are told something dangerous is coming, but all you need to do is wash your hands, the action doesn’t seem proportionate to the threat,” clinical psychologist Steven Taylor told CNN. “Special danger needs special precautions.”

If you see a stock clerk at your local store, give them a virtual high-five. They are the real heroes here.

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