Milk and bread? The shelves were full. Booze? It’s good to go. How about a new sled? Supply chain issues resolved just in time!
Shoppers weathered the Philadelphia area’s first real snowstorm with little trouble on Saturday.
And the previous threat of unshown snowfall in recent weeks may have helped many prepare for the 6 inches that landed on the city and surrounding suburbs from Friday night into Saturday.
Traders said shoppers showed up Friday before the snowfall, then hunkered down at home on Saturday, resulting in a slow day at the cash registers.
Jeff Brown said Philly knew the drill. At the first whiff of a potential blizzard, shoppers flock to supermarkets for an obligatory milk and bread run.
Brown said its 10 ShopRite stores and two Fresh Grocer outlets in the region were well prepared and weathered the storm without missing a step. It reported a usual rush on Friday, followed by a predictable dip in business on Saturday.
“My stores are well stocked with everything,” Brown said at noon Saturday, including milk and bread. “We have an emergency preparedness plan. When we hear snow, we build up our stock.
Brown added that its stores were opening and closing at regular times this weekend. “We hire locally,” he said. “So many of our employees walk to work. We are built for the rough and the tumult. We rarely close early. People rely on us. Somebody’s got to be the guy’s grocery store driving the snow plows.
Jeff Muth, who two years ago posted a sign outside his Wayne Hardware store imploring customers to “Think Snow!” due to a lack of powdery precipitation, got what he wanted for Saturday.
He took a break from plowing through parking spots for customers at Do It Best Hardware on Pennsylvania Avenue to describe the sales. The typical snow tools – shovels and salt – moved around. But Muth wondered if people were just hiding at home for the first big buildup this winter.
“I’d rather own Netflix today than own a hardware store,” he laughed.
An item is selling very well on Saturday? Sleds. Like many products, supply chain issues over the past two years have caused a shortage. But Muth got a big order last month. “We were lucky,” he said.
Muth also wondered if his business had been affected Saturday morning by a few near-accidental forecasts over the past few weeks that called for snow but turned out to be nothing more than a dusting. These customers may have already been supplied with snow removal equipment. Yet this type of forecast is Muth’s favorite.
“It’s a win-win,” he said. “They don’t have to shovel and we sell a bunch of stuff.”
In the liquor business, the threat of a snowstorm creates a powerful thirst. But 6 inches of snow will keep customers home.
This is the lesson of Gary Brady, director of the Canal’s iconic Discount liquor store on Route 38 in Pennsauken, where business was brisk on Friday and sluggish on Saturday.
Brady said the store was “quite impacted knowing the blizzard was coming” as customers stocked up on Friday.
The store, which has been in business for six decades, was able to open with three employees on Saturday morning because one had a snow-capable truck and picked up the other two. Only one register was open at 11 a.m.
“There’s no one coming in,” Brady said. “All we get is the plow guys, picking up a little something.”
Brady planned to close at 4 p.m., four hours earlier than normal.
“We know the temperatures will drop and the roads will become icy,” he said. “We wanted to give people a chance to get in before that.”