FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As COVID-19 numbers surge across Texas and much of the country, retailers are upping their restrictions in an effort to avoid the empty shelves we saw back in the spring.

Kroger is only allowing customers to buy two of certain items like toilet paper and disinfecting wipes, supplies that were flying off store shelves as people panicked earlier this year.

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Albertsons and Tom Thumb stores are mostly restricting meat products.

“What our research suggests is when we’re stressed, when we’re anxious, we make suboptimal decisions because we don’t think rationally,” said Traci Freling, a Marketing professor at UT Arlington.

She studied the phenomenon of panic buying near the start of the pandemic. She found people more often listen to friends over facts when their emotions take over.

“We as humans are actually more likely to rely on the anecdotes in certain situations even though it defies logic,” she said.

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Still, there are other factors that contributed to shortages we saw, and could see again.

“We know that the meat processing plants have to operate, but it’s a dangerous environment,” said Mike Davis, an Economics professor at SMU.

He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see some shortages if the pandemic worsens.

“There’s somebody who gets up at five in the morning, and he works in a meat processing plant, and that may not be a safe place to be during a pandemic going on.”


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