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story.lead_photo.caption Shelves in the paper towel and toilet tissue aisle are depleted Tuesday at a Meijer Store in Carmel, Ind. A surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. is prompting people to stockpile items again, forcing retailers to put limits on some purchases. (AP/Michael Conroy)

NEW YORK -- A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases, the companies say.

Walmart said Tuesday that it's having trouble keeping up with demand for cleaning supplies in some stores. Supermarket chains Kroger and Publix are limiting how much toilet paper and paper towels shoppers can buy after demand spiked recently. And Amazon is sold out of most disinfectant wipes and paper towels.

A similar scene played out in March, when the pandemic first hit and people hunkered down in their homes.

But Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Brands Association, formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said he doesn't expect things to be as bad this go-around since lockdowns are being handled on a regional basis and everyone is better prepared.

"A more informed consumer combined with a more informed manufacturer and a more informed retailer should provide all of us with a greater sense of ease and ensure we can meet this growing demand, " Freeman said.

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The biggest supply issue seems to be paper products: 21% of shelves that stock paper towels and toilet paper are empty, the highest level in at least a month, according to market research company Information Resources Inc. Cleaning supplies have remained level at 16%. Before the pandemic, 5% to 7% of consumer goods were typically out of stock, researchers said.

Contributing to the problem is the fact that roughly 10% of the workforce at manufacturing plants where the products are made are calling in sick, mainly because they've been in contact with others who tested positive for the virus, Freeman said.

Kelly Anderson of Colorado Springs, Colo., said she needs more supplies now that in-person school in her area was canceled earlier this month and her two children are at home more. She's noticed others are stocking up, too: Safeway and Walmart were nearly wiped out of bottled water and disinfectant wipes during a recent visit, although both had been easy to find since the summer.

It's also been harder to find a time slot to get her groceries delivered. Anderson says she's had to wait as many as two days instead of same-day delivery. But that's still not as bad as earlier this year

"March seems like a million years ago, but I do remember freaking out," she said. "I couldn't get groceries delivered for a week."

Walmart said that while supplies are stressed in some areas, it thinks it will be able to handle any stockpiling better now than earlier this year. Amazon said that it's working with manufacturers to get items such as disinfecting wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer in stock.

The quantity of paper towels customers can buy is listed at a Target Store, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Bloomington, Minn. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The quantity of paper towels customers can buy is listed at a Target Store, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Bloomington, Minn. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Shelves in the paper towel and toilet paper section are depleted at a Meijer Store in Carmel, Ind., Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Shelves in the paper towel and toilet paper section are depleted at a Meijer Store in Carmel, Ind., Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Shelves in the toilet paper aisle at a Fred Meyer store sit empty in Happy Valley, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, the day after Gov. Kate Brown announced new restrictions on businesses that included capacity limits in grocery stores. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (Samantha Swindler/The Oregonian via AP)
Shelves in the toilet paper aisle at a Fred Meyer store sit empty in Happy Valley, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, the day after Gov. Kate Brown announced new restrictions on businesses that included capacity limits in grocery stores. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (Samantha Swindler/The Oregonian via AP)
Paper products are in short supply on the shelves of a Pittsburgh market on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Paper products are in short supply on the shelves of a Pittsburgh market on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A woman buys toilet paper at a market in Mount Lebanon, Pa, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A woman buys toilet paper at a market in Mount Lebanon, Pa, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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