I'm aware that a lot of folks are familiar with the "just in time" nature of the grocery stores, but hearing it from someone that is in the industry might open the eyes of the ones that don't. This is paraphrased. The entire essay can be read at the link below. From: The Truth About Your Local Grocery Store, By Jay M. - SurvivalBlog.com I’ve worked for a major grocer / big box retailer for the last 25 years. In that time things have changed an unbelievable amount. Twenty or even ten years ago we stored tons of merchandise in the back room and restocked throughout the day. Now due to the wishes of Wall Street all retailers are required to very closely monitor their inventory levels. If you want your share price to go up then you had to greatly reduce the amount of inventory you kept in the stores. This resulted in the Just in Time (JIT) inventory craze. Basically this means that instead of a store employee knowing what sold when and ordering each day/week to keep the store stocked with what was selling or what they knew would sell based on their experience it is now done by computers. Now this “computer” knows how long it takes to get each item from the vendor to the store. Then it takes information from the registers each day based on how much of an item is sold and/or sales trends and orders just enough as not to run out. The goal is that as a customer is buying the last item off the shelf that a stocker is coming down the aisle with a new case to restock. Of course any of you who do any shopping understand this is not a perfect science. As people go shopping now they take for granted that what they want will be on the shelf. Most of the time this process does work as planned... The problem occurs when some outside factors come into play. This can be as little as the weather man predicting a snow or ice store. If that happens people go nuts buying everything they can get their hands on. The system is not set up for this. If the situation only affects a few locations then they can get back in stock within 2-3 days on most of the basic supplies. However if it affects a large region such as half a state then the warehouses run out fast also. They are on the JIT program as well and aren’t stocked in a way to restock 100 stores all at once. Many areas of the country are primed to be affected by an earthquake. If that were to happen the shelves would be cleaned out within hours and wouldn’t be restocked for who knows how long. Even if the stores local area wasn’t affected, most likely the roads between the store and the warehouses would have bridges that if not destroyed would certainly be shut down for a time in order for inspectors to clear them as safe before trucks were allowed to cross. The other factor I explain to folks is that when they shop day in and day out it looks like a ton of merchandise on the shelf. For example a store may stock 60 propane bottles for camp stoves on a regular basis. But in an emergency situation whether it has happened or only predicted the customers who get there first to buy some don’t just buy one or two. They will buy at least 10 so then only the first six customers get any. Many of the big box and grocery stores you shop in every day average between 3,000 and 6,000 customers a day. Do the math. What I try to make people understand it that they need to have a stock of what they need at their own house or somewhere. That they can’t just assume the local store will have what they want. A lot of discussion goes on about food but you can’t just think about food. Of course that is important for sure but also think about other things you would want. Such items might be batteries, candles, matches, charcoal, lighter fluid, Coleman fuel, propane, lamp oil, water carriers, and toilet paper (very important), etc. I also try to keep at least an extra 6-to-8 of such items such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, paper plates, paper towels, medicine, etc. Think of things that you use every day but won’t be able to drive to the store and pick up if TSHTF . The next time you go shopping take time to look around and think about what you would do if when you walked in the shelves were empty. What would you feed your family when you got home if you couldn’t buy what you came to get. Go home and look at your cabinets. There are tons of list out there of what you need to have. Be sure to think about what you already use all the time and stock up on that as well. Life will be much more pleasant if live changes due to a major SHTF situation or even a temporary situation such as an earthquake if you don’t have to drastically modify your life. Simple things like having your regular shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc will be appreciated.