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Germany: Empty Shelves in Supermarkets Due To Coronavirus

In many parts of Germany, residents are buying away all durable food and other items. Supermarket chains are having trouble refilling their shelves as quickly as they are being emptied.

All over Germany, there is a high demand for certain items, even though some residents do not seem to have any idea what kind of times might be coming. Disinfection fluid and breathing masks were hard to get weeks ago. Now food cans are being bought as if there were no tomorrow.

Bathroom Tissue Shortage

At the Edeka supermarket in Thedinghausen, a small county in Lower Saxony, purchasing toilet paper seems to be a mission impossible. The entire shelf for bathroom tissue and kitchen rolls is empty. Only soft tissues are available. No supermarket in the western part of Germany has looked that way since the early 1950s.

This store in Thedinghausen ran out of bathroom tissue.

Exactly 380 kilometers (236 miles) further east, in Berlin’s Kreuzberg borough, an employee at another Edeka store says their turnover on Saturday had been as high as it usually was during the Christmas holidays. Her canned food shelf looks rather empty.

‘Only the Beginning’

Down the street, at Aldi, things are worse. There is hardly any bread on Monday afternoon. The cheese is almost sold out. Employees keep on pushing large pallets with toilet paper into the store from the storage. The panic purchases over here have increased again since the first Coronavirus case in the German capital was identified. “This is only the beginning”, a lady at Aldi accurately states, while her store is already a sorry sight.

For now, the German food retailers are not experiencing real issues because their storage is actually full. Their turnover tripled in some regions, and filling up those shelves is not a problem, as long as their employees are not infected. Even imported merchandise is still coming in. But that might change, at some point, depending on the situation in the exporting countries.

Pasta, Rice and Nuts

In and around Bonn, where a primary school needed to be closed and lots of residents are already in quarantine, some supermarkets did not have anything much, only hours after the latest deliveries. According to Netto, Lidl and other chains, the Germans are buying it all. Red cabbage in glasses, peas, carrots, tuna and corn in cans. Everyone wants pasta, rice, nuts, flower and anything durable.

The company’s trucks cannot drive back and forth between their central storage facilities and their supermarkets quickly enough. By the time one store is being stocked, the next one will be half empty again. The delivery intervals were just sped up. But chances are the situation will escalate further once there are more Coronavirus cases.

Aldi reportedly sent out an e-mail to hundreds of its supermarket managers, telling them to order more pasta, rice and toilet paper because of the high demand. At the same time they are not supposed to make more room in their local storage, by getting rid of other items, meaning Aldi and others always want to continue offering it all. Today they did not reach that goal, at least not in Berlin-Kreuzberg. The demand was far too high.

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