Grocers wait, see: will Utah shoppers rush to stock up on food? : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

The Mormon Church was holding its regular semi-annual conference last weekend in SLC, and just before their Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, got up to speak, the war began in Afghanistan. During his remarks, he reminded his people of their church's long-standing counsel to have food stored in case of need. This article from today's Deseret News discusses the impact this advice may have on Utah grocers. Robert Waldrop, OKC

Deseret News, Monday, October 08, 2001,1249,325008608,00.html

Grocers wait, see: Will shoppers in Utah rush to stock up on foodstuffs?

By Jenifer K. Nii and Brice Wallace Deseret News business writers

Utah businesses said Monday that it is too early to tell what kind of effect Sunday's U.S. attacks on Afghanistan will have on the mood of local shoppers.

Grocers said they did not yet know whether consumers will make a run on staple items, particularly after President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged members to shore up their food storage in case of need.

During the church's 171st Semiannual General Conference Sunday, President Hinckley reminded members of past counsel to have some food set aside. However, he said, "Let us not panic nor go to extremes. Let us be prudent in every respect."

Scott Isbell, frozen and dairy manager at Stop & Shop in Ogden, said there was no way to predict what shoppers would do.

"We haven't really seen the demand yet, but it's hard to tell," Isbell said. "It's right after the weekend. We might get a push for it now."

There's only so much grocers can do to prepare for a war-time rush, said Sheldon Smith, assistant meat manager at Dick's Market in Bountiful. The perishable nature of much of their goods coupled with limited storage space makes for a delicate balancing act.

"We try to always have extra stuff on hand," Smith said. "But if it gets ugly, people are going to be out of stock. We can't stock up for a crisis and then end up selling green meat. . . . And nobody can store enough, or have a back room big enough, for a big worldwide scare. This store has the biggest back room of any I've worked in in my life, and it's not big enough for something like that."

Scott Saxton, store director at Food 4 Less in Provo, said his store had begun a case lot sale last week and is prepared with a wide selection of bulk items.

"We are prepared for the masses, if they come," he said.

However, Saxton said, shoppers should stock up only on the items they need and use every day.

"Stock up on the things you use in your everyday meals, the things you need and use every day," he said. "Don't stock up on the things you never eat, because you won't ever eat them. And then when the panic is over, you're stuck with stuff you'll never use."

Smith suggested shoppers who may be concerned about future shortages should call in and order ahead. Most orders may be filled in four to five days, he said.

Some army-navy surplus stores and sellers of survival kits have seen an uptick in business in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks but aren't sure how business will be affected by Sunday's U.S. military actions and threats of retaliation.

Demoin Gold with Survival Solutions in West Valley City said he hopes people will avoid irrational actions.

"These are the kinds of times that prompt perhaps that feeling of fear, an attitude of panic," he said. "I'm hoping people don't go overboard. We've seen an increase in demand across the board, but the initial shock is wearing off a bit."

Customers, he said, likely will find disposable gas masks handy, but some are perhaps thinking about long-term products such as food for storage.

"I would guess we'll have people buying 72-hour emergency kits, and I think that's reasonable. That's prudent. Long-term food storage would be at any time," he said.

"But none of us has the ability to predict any more what's reasonable or what might last. What may have seemed prudent a month ago may not necessarily be now."

-- robert waldrop (, October 08, 2001

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