Grocery Store Clean Out

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Murphman
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Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Murphman » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:22 am

Where I live, one of the major local chains just got bought out by a big national chain. Since there is some overlap of stores, they are closing a few, and transitioning others. The store right down the street from my house is a transition store, so they set up a sale of all the "store brand" items and selling all the perishables (bakery, deli, meats) for a 25% discount. I decided that this sale would be a good time to stock up on prep items and fresh eating.

So I get to the store at their normal Sunday opening time (9am), and silly me didn't read the fine print of the sale flyer. The store opened at 8am, and I literally walked out without a single can of veggies, not a single bag of beans or rice, and not a sinlge piece of meat. I bought a few bags of organic apples, a few bags of organic carrots, and not quite a pound of black forest ham (all they had left). About 50% of the shelves were bare, which were relatively full when I stopped in on Thursday of last week.

Talking to the nice deli lady, she told me the store hadn't received a new shipment since the sale took place two weeks ago, but I was literally shocked at how quickly these items disappeared. This store was not one of their flagship stores, and is not on a main thoroughfare. I never have to wait more than one person for an open register, and there are rarely more than two cashiers on duty at one time (one express, one regular, and they will take you in express with more then 10 items if there are 2 people in the other line).

My learning lesson was three-fold. 1. Stores will clear out very quickly when not restocked. 2. There are other like-minded people near me that were more on the ball than me. 3. I need to step up my game.

Yes, I realize that this is a one-time situation, but honestly walking through an almost empty store gave me a very strange ominous feeling. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up walking down the canned good aisle. Not a good feeling.

Thanks for reading.

Edited due to horrible typing skills.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by TacAir » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:12 am

No re-supply for that long there was anything on the shelves? I'm surprised as well.

Most major chains expect a near 100% turnover of stock in a week or less.


Time magazine recently had this to say -
"Walmart is supposed to have the most sophisticated supply chain management system in the industry. Along with its biggest vendors, such as Procter & Gamble, it has been an early and powerful practitioner of automated replenishment. As goods are purchased nationwide, the computers in Bentonville automatically spew resupply orders. Tons of programming muscle has gone into making sure everything from Pampers to potatoes are delivered to stores with incredible efficiency. Even the trucks are programmed to take the most efficient routes, so as to waste neither time nor fuel.

And then all of it is unloaded into those back rooms at the rear of the stores where employees using pallet jacks and hand trucks transfer the goods to the shelves. (Except for products that are “direct store delivered” —DSD— such as bread, chips and soda, which are replenished by route drivers, for Pepsi, say.) And this is where the system may be breaking down. In the course of covering the company, I’ve been in the back rooms of hundreds of Walmart stores. They are marked by a bit of organized chaos (and the smell of bulky bags of dog food), which is why the stockers are really important. Ultimately, no amount of supply chain computer wizardry can eliminate Walmart’s need for muscle power to get the goods on the shelves.

This isn’t just about a few customers leaving stores empty handed, either, because inventory management goes to the heart of what Walmart does. The economics of retailing are a circular: You order stuff, it’s delivered, and you have 30 days to pay for it. The faster you can sell the merchandise, the less it costs you to finance, which is why inventory turns are a critical measure of retail efficiency. Globally, Walmart turns its entire inventory eight times a year (compared to 6.4 times a year for Target, for example). Ideally, you want to turn your inventory in less than 30 days — that way, your vendors are financing your inventory, not you. Faster velocity lowers costs, meaning you can then charge less, which increases velocity and lowers costs more — it’s this kind of virtuous circle that made Walmart king. So any speed bump, anywhere in the system, screws everything up."

Snow storms, trucker strikes, almost anything can disrupt this supply chain resulting in empty shelves. Better to have a some extra at home, you did good to try and stock up at the sale.
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DannusMaximus
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by DannusMaximus » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:46 pm

Murphman wrote:Yes, I realize that this is a one-time situation, but honestly walking through an almost empty store gave me a very strange ominous feeling. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up walking down the canned good aisle. Not a good feeling.
I bet that WAS creepy as hell. TacAir is spot-on in his explanation, but it doesn't make it any less disturbing to know the how and why of how modern logistical systems work.

Many systems work this way, including critical infrastructure like power plants, water treatment facilities, etc. I think our local water treatment plant has about 2 days worth of water stored in its cisterns and towers before it's all gone, and I'm pretty sure that power plants only store a few days or weeks worth of coal on-site. Efficient, but scary.

I can think of very few things that I consider critical do our comfy, safe 1st world lifestyle that wouldn't run out in a disturbingly short period of time if there was not a constant resupply.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Sworbeyegib » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:57 pm

I used to work in the food dept at Walmart, and I can tell you first hand how fast the product turnover is. We were just constantly having deliveries throughout the day. Staples like milk, bread, rice etc... were delivered daily. For canned foods we were lucky to keep 1-2 cases of each in the back of the store. We just didn't have the room in the back to keep a pallet of everything.

During tsunami or hurricane scares, we didn't even bother unloading things like bottled water or rice. We would just wheel the entire pallet out as we got it, and it would be gone in less than an hour.

Not to say that there weren't items with low turnover, but even then it wasn't exactly the stuff that sells well.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Halfapint » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:41 pm

Something similar happened when a QFC (Kroger) store was shutting for good. They were receiving new shipments right up to the day of the sale. It was a Thursday, I had Thursday off, so I thought well shit I better get there early. All the Kroger brand stuff was 50% off, I wanted canned veggies, fruit and meat. Well life happened I wasn't able to make it until extremely late in the day, the store was damn near bare. No joke, it looked like a scene out of a movie. I was able to get some things I spent about 100% but it was for things that I don't think most people really want. But it works for me because I'll eat anything.

But just goes to show ya, you CANNOT rely on stores to have stuff on shelves in an emergency.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by gundogs » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:26 am

Keep in mind that banks are now operated this way. One time I needed $12k cash and my bank said I had to "order it"
and wait 2 days. I lost out on a sweet piece of land. Along with other supplies I now keep more cash on hand

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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:16 am

Halfapint wrote:Something similar happened when a QFC (Kroger) store was shutting down .... I was able to get some things I spent about 100% but it was for things that I don't think most people really want. But it works for me because I'll eat anything.

But just goes to show ya, you CANNOT rely on stores to have stuff on shelves in an emergency.
Reminds me of Frank Miller's post-apocalyptic comic book Ronin where the only canned goods that could be scrounged from the rubble are canned beets. I'm pretty sure that canned beets and wax beans will be some of the last cans of food on earth.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Barnabus » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:40 pm

back in the late 70's I worked at k-Mart, and back then we still had large stockroom with pallets of merchandise on hand at all times. We had a separate room (about 12 x 12 feet) that was just chocolate bars for the check out lanes. I would help the candy lady get the candy , and the aroma going into that enclosed room of all that chocolate made my face break out in zits ! Now I work at a grocery warehouse, and I know the stores exist from truck to truck . Big stores get almost a daily delivery. Small dinky stores get one a week. when the winter weather was bad last month, and trucks couldn't get out for a few days, our stores reported empty shelves in no time.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Halfapint » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:38 pm

Evan the Diplomat wrote:
Halfapint wrote:Something similar happened when a QFC (Kroger) store was shutting down .... I was able to get some things I spent about 100% but it was for things that I don't think most people really want. But it works for me because I'll eat anything.

But just goes to show ya, you CANNOT rely on stores to have stuff on shelves in an emergency.
Reminds me of Frank Miller's post-apocalyptic comic book Ronin where the only canned goods that could be scrounged from the rubble are canned beets. I'm pretty sure that canned beets and wax beans will be some of the last cans of food on earth.
Funny thing, I did get about 15 cans of beets. Haha even I did pass up the wax beans, I'm not desperate. I did score with quite a few gars of pickled asparagus, artichoke hearts, and lots of refried beans.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Rednex » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:45 pm

I have worked at a super market a time or two before , and well there back rooms seem to be getting smaller. One reason is the less they store back there the less they can lose money on for going bad. Other reason like the quick turn around on items too. Round here its the same every winter or hurricane one snow flake or one weather man says it will be bad and everyone runs to stores for milk eggs bread water paper goods etc. I seen a full store emptied in an afternoon fist fights over spaghetti in a can. So as we here at ZS have always said don't count on going to the store in a disaster to get what you need stock up on it before you need it.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by williaty » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:48 pm

My wife and I have started calling them French Toast Freakouts. Weatherman comes on an everyone runs to the store to buy milk, bread, and eggs.

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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by tc556guy » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:25 am

Murphman wrote: So I get to the store at their normal Sunday opening time (9am), and silly me didn't read the fine print of the sale flyer. The store opened at 8am, and I literally walked out without a single can of veggies, not a single bag of beans or rice, and not a sinlge piece of meat. I bought a few bags of organic apples, a few bags of organic carrots, and not quite a pound of black forest ham (all they had left). About 50% of the shelves were bare, which were relatively full when I stopped in on Thursday of last week.

Talking to the nice deli lady, she told me the store hadn't received a new shipment since the sale took place two weeks ago, but I was literally shocked at how quickly these items disappeared. This store was not one of their flagship stores, and is not on a main thoroughfare. I never have to wait more than one person for an open register, and there are rarely more than two cashiers on duty at one time (one express, one regular, and they will take you in express with more then 10 items if there are 2 people in the other line).

My learning lesson was three-fold. 1. Stores will clear out very quickly when not restocked.
Stock doesn't just sit on the shelf in grocery stores, unsold for days. It times out and gets yanked by the rep for that product pretty quickly. The only exception might be some backwater little country grocery store that services a few dozen families in the immediate area for the occasional bag of something they're short on. We have one or two of those in my county and the stock there can get dusty if not sold off....
At any large grocery store on any given day there are dozens of guys throwing stock to keep those shelves full. It's their full time job to drive to one of just a handful of stores to do that sort of thing day in and day out. My brother does that sort of thing for the past dozen years in another state and has often described to me what his days are like.
I'm surprised the store you were at hadn't allowed for any sort of re-stocking for as long as you describe.

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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by RickOShea » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:24 pm

Sworbeyegib wrote:
During tsunami or hurricane scares, we didn't even bother unloading things like bottled water or rice. We would just wheel the entire pallet out as we got it, and it would be gone in less than an hour.
Same thing around here when a tropical storm or hurricane wanders into the Gulf of Mexico. The shelves at the grocery and Big Box stores empty fairly quickly, and a lot of the gas stations run out of gasoline from everyone topping-off their vehicle tanks and filling the gas cans for their portable generators.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Barnabus » Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:07 pm

Went to Dollar Tree Saturday, and was a little surprised at the first aid and health care aisle. Several pegs were totally empty. The ones for gauze rolls and sterile pads in particular. Since I was there to buy those very items, it struck me as odd.
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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by AS556 » Mon Sep 08, 2014 4:07 pm

RE: Tac Airs post, I'm a manager at Wal-Mart and although their system is better at replenishment than some other companies, it is FAR from perfect. The inventory inaccuracies and difficulties with getting product in are astonishing, honestly.

TL:DR, buy it cheap and stack it deep.

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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Kathy in FL » Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:36 pm

Barnabus wrote:Went to Dollar Tree Saturday, and was a little surprised at the first aid and health care aisle. Several pegs were totally empty. The ones for gauze rolls and sterile pads in particular. Since I was there to buy those very items, it struck me as odd.
Mummy costumes. You buy the gauze early as you can get it because the closer to Halloween it gets the harder it is to find that stuff. I always rotate and restock around June 1 as they generally have good sales for hurricane season.

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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Kathy in FL » Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:47 pm

Don't. Wait.

Sales are great. I love sales. I lust after sales. But if you wait for a sale to get what you need you may never get it. Stocking up could be as few as one or two extra cans a week. Giving up a pack of cigs or a pack of gum or not going on that joy ride will give you a few extra bucks to put into food and water storage. Dump your pocket change into a jar and then at the end of the month buy what cans you can with it.

Sales are the desire of my heart ... but I like eating even more so when we need to fill some holes in the food storage that's what we do with the money we have, even if it means giving up something else to do it.

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Re: Grocery Store Clean Out

Post by Purple_Mutant » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:42 pm

I used to work at a Target stocking the shelves. We had trucks of merchandise coming in 5 or 6 days a week. When you think of it; it's kind of scary just how little food most stories have at any one time.
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