HOW SHELVES CAN BE PICKED CLEAN AS A BONE
Even a casual trip to the local supermarket is likely to dazzle and amaze you with the sheer quantity of food available. In America, we eat like no other nation. We’ve never (at least in recent memory) gone hungry, but we are simply one panic event away from bare shelves. Here’s how it happens:
- Supermarkets study intense data and conduct extensive population studies before they decide to put a store up in a certain neighborhood. Once they are convinced steady, reliable traffic will visit the store, they build it.
- When the initial shelves are stocked initially, they will put a “standard” amount of food in the stores based upon the performance of other stores, their historical data, and some educated guesses.
- Since this is a new store, they’ll probably have a buffer of sorts in the stock room in the back, just in case there’s a shortage.
- As the store matures, management will finely tune the ordering process as real data comes in. They’ll see what people actually buy, and then they will stock accordingly.
- Store managers and stocking personnel operate on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, they must have enough food on hand to sell, plus a little bit extra in case there’s a rush. On the other, they can’t stock too much extra food – first off, they only have so much room on the shelves, with very little in the back, and also, they don’t want the food to get too stale. They need constant turnover to keep everyone happy, and thus they play a fine balancing act of keeping stock on hand, keeping it fresh, and keeping new stock coming.
- A disaster or panic attack throws a massive wrench into the works. Even if the store isn’t affected by the disaster itself, it will soon be affected by the ramifications.
- Remember when we spoke about the population studies? Well to simplify the topic, supermarkets are set up so that the area’s populace can come and shop at the store one or two days per week. So in essence, some of the local people come to the store some of the time.
- Again, a disaster changes all of that when all of the local people come to the store at once. You see, a store is only set up to feed a tiny fraction of the local populace on a regular basis, and it must be supplied constantly to keep the illusion of full shelves alive!
- So a disaster strikes, and suddenly people go into panic mode. They descend upon a store, max out credit cards, fill their carts, and totally purge the store of anything useful. Resupply isn’t usually possible because the disaster often affects the highways that the supply trucks need to travel on in order to deliver food. Sometimes, a disaster even affects fuel production to the point where a fuel shortage exists and trucks can’t run!
In short, while you do your local shopping regularly and the store seems to be well stocked, it really is a persistent illusion. You need to have your own stockpile!