By CBSLA Staff

ALHAMBRA (CBSLA) — As the holiday season gears up and coronavirus cases surge, some Southland customers are having a tough time finding essentials again.

At a Costco in Alhambra Thursday, a sign told shoppers that paper towels, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and more were completely sold out.

“I don’t know why it’s happening again,” shopper Lorena Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the current shortages are bringing back memories of the beginning of the pandemic, when she drove all the way to Monterey Bay for toilet paper.

“The Costco out there was a much slower pace Costco, so we figured we’d be able to find more stuff,” she said.

Reminiscent of March and April, shoppers are running into long lines and stores with empty shelves.

Experts disagree on whether or not the current shortages are due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and if the retail industry is ready to handle another surge in buying.

Nick Vyas, an assistant professor of clinical data & global supply at USC, said the rise in cases is triggering another round o f panic buying.

“It creates a psychological barrier with people and then that triggers the emotional part,” he said. “It’s where we start to stock up things that we not only need for the next three to six weeks, but we start stocking up like we’re going to be out of supply for the next six months to a year.”

Holly Pavlika, who collects consumer data with Inmar Intelligence, said 60% of consumers are planning on stockpiling again.

However, GeoffFreeman — president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association — said he believes there will be enough supply to keep up.

“The industry is extraordinarily well prepared for the demand,” Freeman said. “The industry is more prepared today than it was in March, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons.”

But Vyas has a dimmer outlook. He said not enough has changed in how we manage the supply chain.

“I think we will see a drastic shortage in supply in the very near future,” he said.

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