Ahead of snowstorm, Connecticut grocery stores stock up on essentials

As Connecticut faces its first major winter storm of the season, grocery stores are preparing to keep shelves full while in the midst of  already facing shortages due to the pandemic

“Especially with one of the first big ones of the year, customers definitely want to stock up and be prepared, especially the fact that it’s over the weekend and kids will be home," said Jake Tavello, Vice President of Stores for Stew Leonard's and grandson of the store's namesake. “We shifted all of our schedules around and made sure that we got people in the morning and nights so that customers coming in can get everything they need.”

Grocery stores in the U.S. usually have an out-of-stock rate between 5 and 10 percent, the Associated Press reported. The current national out-of-stock rate is around 15 percent, said Geoff Freeman, Consumer Brands Association President and CEO, to the AP.

"Supply chain and labor challenges as a result of COVID-19 have made product availability more challenging than usual, which is why we ask shoppers to buy what they need and save some for their neighbors," said Stefanie Shuman, External Communications Manager for Stop and Shop.

Even though pandemic-related shortages are affecting multiple sectors of the grocery industry, including items like pet food, local grocery chains are still determined to have enough product for customers looking to stock up ahead of Friday night's storm.

"Stop & Shop has been closely monitoring the impending snow fall and is working diligently to have staple items available at our stores for those stocking up ahead of the storm," Shuman said.

Tavello said that Stew Leonard's is ensuring they have enough supply for some of the basics that most customers gravitate toward during winter storms like breads, milk and cold cuts. He said the company is also stoked up on non-food items that are pertinent for customers during the storm such as shovels and Duraflame logs.

Tavello said that some customers are also currently stocking up on items like chicken wings and other comfort foods ahead of Sunday's NFL Conference Championships. 

“A lot of people would’ve shopped for that on Saturday,” Tavello said. “They’re actually buying that now in anticipation that they won’t be able to stock up again before the big game[s].”

Stew Leonard's has been fortunate to avoid most of the issues related to supply chain issues, according to Tavello, since the company buys a lot of their products locally.

“We’ve been really ahead of this ever since this all started last summer. We saw it starting to trickle in. What we did is that we started to really get ahead of things that we were going to need," Tavello said. “A lot of super markets are challenged when their exporting stuff or things are coming in trucks from across the country. A lot of our stuff — we’re in a day of getting another load.”