By CBSLA Staff

IRVINE (CBSLA) — Panic buying has returned to the Southland, and one industry expert said this time could be much worse.

With just one week to go before Thanksgiving, store shelves across Orange County were empty. (Cell phone video)

“It’s gonna be a panic of unprecedented proportions,” Burt Flickinger, of the Strategic Resource Group, said. “We’re already seeing people fighting over limited inventory in the stores.”

With just one week to go before Thanksgiving, store shelves across Orange County were empty. At one Target, shelves that used to hold paper towels and toilet paper were cleared out. At a Walmart, only a couple of dozen packages of toilet paper remained — with a one per customer limit.

“Hoping to buy paper goods — toilet paper, paper towels — basically just the necessities,” Brenda Lozano, a shopper said. “Not trying to hoard, just trying to get what we needed for the house, and that was it. Unfortunately, they’re out.”

And it’s not just the paper goods that are sold out, but cleaning products, too, with the fear of another lockdown fueling panic buying and retailers unable to get enough product to meet demand.

“One of the leading wholesalers in New York called Procter and Gamble and said, ‘I need 15 tucks a week,'” Flickinger said. “They said, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you, and maybe you’ll get one truck, possibly two.’ So it’s a really sickening situation.”

Making the situation worse, more than 20,000 truck drivers are threatening to strike at the end of the month, a move that could bring a fragile supply chain to its knees.

“It’s really bad the week before Thanksgiving, but by the time we get to New Year’s week and into the New Year, it’s gonna be a product panic of unprecedented proportions,” Flickinger said.

There was no word yet on whether the truck driver strike might take place.

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