Auditing Aisles: TP Still Tops the OOS List

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Auditing Aisles: TP Still Tops the OOS List

By Path to Purchase Institute Staff - 03/23/2020

A random audit of more than 200 stores last week found 35% of shelves in key categories completely out of stock, with another 22% nearly depleted, as consumers continued the stock-up buying frenzy sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conducted on March 18-19 by the crowdsourced in-store force managed by Path to Purchase Institute member Field Agent, the national audit sent agents into 212 stores representing 11 key retailers to assess the in-stock levels of eight product categories that have been targeted the most by shoppers reacting to the escalating coronavirus crisis. 

Collectively, Field Agent found more than half of shelves across the categories, or 57%, to be either out-of-stock or critically low, with only one to a few product units available.

Not surprisingly (although somewhat disappointingly, perhaps), toilet paper was found to be the most depleted category, with 98% of shelves totally or nearly empty (only a few units remaining). That was equal to the level for disinfectant wipes but higher than those for hand soap (75%) and other categories (see chart, below).

Looking at retailers, Costco had the highest out-of-stock rates across the eight categories at 56%, followed by Trader Joe’s at 52% and Sam’s Club at 51%. The presence of two warehouse clubs known for their bulk-size packaged goods offerings at the top of the list shouldn’t be a surprise either. 

Field Agent’s full report is available here.