Many large grocery retailers, including Walmart, now offer their customers an alternative to in-store shopping. They simply order what they need online, drive to the store, park in a designated spot, and an employee comes out and tosses their groceries into their vehicle. It’s easy.
However, once a shopper gets home and begins to unload their purchase, they find much of what they thought they were buying has been substituted with another brand or a similar product.
In a growing number of instances, they discover they didn’t receive their ordered item at all, or even a somewhat suitable substitute. The store simply did not have anything to offer which would have even come close to what the customer wanted.
At the onslaught of the pandemic pandemonium, we were all forced to live with, panic buying became all the rage. Understandably, toilet paper flew off the shelves at the speed of sound. Stocks of TP have now been replenished so it isn’t the big deal it once was.
Another item that no household or office should be without these days is disinfection wipes. Store shelves were quickly depleted, but unlike toilet paper and paper towels, the shelves still remain empty to this day.
Clorox CEO, Benno Dorer, has said we better get used to it. Shoppers won’t see this product until at least some time in 2021. In the meantime, it’s back to the old ways of using a bucket, a rag, and any type of product, such as bleach, to kill germs.
Manufacturers of these type disinfecting products, such as Clorox and Lysol, saw a 6-fold increase in sales. Quite simply put, they were caught with their pants down. Because the surge was unanticipated, they were not prepared.
Because these companies, and others like them, have stepped up the production of bleach, it will soon be plentiful. But wipes are another story because they require certain chemicals they cannot get their hands on due to an extremely complex supply chain.
The main ingredient in wipes is a chemical known as polyester spun lace. Because this same ingredient is used in the manufacturing of masks, medical gowns, medical wipes, and other personal protection equipment, the supply chain is stressed beyond maximum capacity, and medical needs have taken priority.
Clorox is making every possible attempt to ramp up the production of disinfecting wipes and has even gone as far as outsourcing the manufacturing to at least 10 other companies, as their own company runs 24/7.
Even the almighty Amazon has run out, with the exception of one type of Clorox wipes called “Orange Fusion.” There’s a good reason why these wipes are still in stock. A canister containing just 75 wipes has a going price of $22.95, while their standard container of 75 wipes, the ones not available, generally sell for $4.99.
Smaller manufacturers of wipes such as Seventh Generation that specializes in green cleaning and hygiene products are feeling the crunch in much greater proportions. By the first half of 2020, they had already sold 63% more of their available stock than at the same time in 2019.
But the demand for Seventh Generation products has spiked by 300-400%, and there is no possible way for them to meet those demands. As with everything in the world of sales, the larger industry manufacturers will take priority over them when the needed chemicals are finally available.
With COVID-19 not planning on going anywhere soon, food shortages and substitutions will remain a way of life we all must become accustomed to. On the other hand, disinfecting products are something we must all learn to live without, at least in the immediate future.
To make a bad situation even worse, flu season is looming just around the corner. In the particular case of disinfecting wipes, we have learned one thing, sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Better break out the rags and buckets.