If you are the pri­mary gro­cery shop­per for your house­hold, you’ve had a taste of what retail mad­ness feels like.

For all oth­ers, it’s only a wild tale of unprece­dented activ­ity. It may rein­force why you leave the shop­ping to oth­ers.

Long lines to get in to stores. Longer lines to check­out. Empty shelves for more than paper tow­els and toi­let paper. Eggs are at a pre­mium if you can find them.

Major chain stores have now imposed lim­its on cer­tain items to pre­vent hoard­ing. This comes later than nec­es­sary. We hear about indi­vid­u­als stock­pil­ing paper goods, hand san­i­tiz­ers and clean­ing sup­plies.

Costco, Kroger’s, Whole Foods and oth­ers have dis­con­tin­ued prod­uct sam­pling. No free nib­bles.

The spike in “social dis­tanc­ing” does not yet seem to apply to retail envi­ron­ments. Pan­icked shop­pers crowd aisles and fill carts with every­thing from ramen to Spam. Even if those things are not what is nor­mally eaten for din­ner, there is some illog­i­cal ratio­nale for pur­chas­ing them.

Work­ing in indus­try, we rec­og­nize the extra­or­di­nary efforts of retail­ers to replen­ish goods. Clerks are work­ing long hours and with a sense of urgency to respond to the sud­den surge in demand.

Pro­duce depart­ments may be the one bright spot through­out any super­mar­ket or small gro­cery store. The fresh sup­ply chain for fruits and veg­gies has not had any dis­rup­tions to the pipeline.

Weather and tran­si­tion to new grow­ing regions con­tinue to be the main gamechang­ers for pro­duce.

In our world, updates on new crop Cal­i­for­nia grown aspara­gus, arti­chokes and straw­ber­ries is what we call “break­ing news”.

Opti­mistic grow­ers are out assess­ing cherry and stone fruit orchards. This season’s bounty may get lost in the Covid-​19 shuf­fle.

Sea­soned shop­pers know the dif­fer­ence between a hol­i­day food shop­ping expe­ri­ence and a rou­tine daily or weekly stop. The tone of recent retail trips is any­thing but nor­mal.

Anx­i­ety and panic have cast an ugly pall over the retail scene. Gov­ern­ment offi­cials tell us to “hun­ker down” and pre­pare for a few rough weeks ahead. This isn’t nec­es­sary to hear. The visual cue of shop­ping carts piled high sends the mes­sage.

As long as we have access to fresh, frozen. canned and shelf-​stable ingre­di­ents, the ride through this unprece­dented global event may be man­age­able. No need to over pur­chase. There is no need to stock­pile.

Prospects of fam­ily and friends join­ing together for Passover, Easter or other upcom­ing large gath­er­ings is dwin­dling. The fam­ily table still requires a meal to be set.

Online shop­ping, E-​Cart pickup and meal deliv­ery ser­vices will con­tinue to see more activ­ity. Mean­while, the rest of us get to wait in line and hope for a quick end to this unpredictability.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.