Call it the shopocalypse.
Area supermarkets were mobbed by shoppers Monday, grabbing cartloads of staples ahead of the blizzard.
The items of choice seemed to be bread, milk, eggs, butter, beer and … toilet paper.
“This morning there was nothing here. This was all bare,” said one Wegmans employee stocking shelves with bagged salads. “Our truck was late, so people were starting to freak out a little.”
Some Wegmans shelves were emptied as local residents scrambled to get ready for the storm.
“Our Buffalo stores have been extremely busy since Friday,” said Jo Natale, Wegmans director of media relations. Natale said shelves were only temporarily bare as workers hurriedly restocked.
“We’re able to replenish pretty quickly with new shipments,” she said. “In circumstances such as these, it’s bound to happen as folks stock up in anticipation of very, very cold temperatures and snow.”
Tops was also experiencing the weather-related spike in business, and had also been able to keep up with the surge.
“We absolutely see an increase in shoppers during times of inclement weather,” said John Persons, Tops’ senior vice president of operations, in an e-mail. “We know that winters in Western New York bring the threat of school closings and transportation challenges, so our neighbors want to be prepared. Because of this, during the winter months especially, our stores always have back-up stock and processes in place in order to react quickly to changing weather conditions and customer needs.”
Persons said the company’s distribution center is in Lancaster, making its restocking efforts relatively swift.
While shoppers raided some stores for bread, milk and beer, Tops on South Park Avenue in Hamburg had plenty of staples and other food left Monday afternoon..
“We get deliveries every night,” said store manager Mike Nugent. He called in extra cashiers Monday to handle the rush of shoppers that started on the weekend.
“A lot depends on the weather. It plays such a role in what people buy and how they shop,” he said.
Workers at other Tops stores spent Monday morning rushing to replenish shelves as shoppers emptied them of bread, milk, butter, eggs, frozen pizzas and peanut butter. Entire shelves of toilet paper, chicken and ground beef were bare. Checkout lines were seven people deep with many carts overflowing.
Customers also stocked up on diapers, pet food and kitty litter and picked up rock salt, shovels, hats and mittens.
Many seemed be taking former Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin’s legendary advice to heart, opting to “grab a six pack,” or a 12-pack, or a case of beer. Many shelves were depleted.
Shoppers said they couldn’t be sure the storm would be as serious as was being predicted, after experiencing near misses with other hyped snowstorms, but said they would rather be safe than sorry.
“I’m still stocked up with all my munchies from the last snowstorm that never happened,” said one Amherst Tops shopper. “But you can’t run out of beer at a time like this.”