Stores putting "fake food" out to hide empty shelves

(Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

We’ve all been hearing stories about the empty shelves being encountered by shoppers around the country as the Biden supply chain crisis grinds on. (I’m still wondering when the Secretary of Transportation is going to take care of this. Where’s Pete?) Sadly, the empty shelves are showing up in grocery stores in some places. Those are obviously the most essential of all essential shopping options, so this is a serious problem. But what are the grocery stores doing about it? According to Inside Edition, some of them have been dreaming up some creative ways to address the issue, though it’s totally unclear what they think they’re going to accomplish. Multiple stores have taken to filling up their shelves with items that are not in much demand this time of year, such as camping gear. Others are putting fake bottles on shelves to give the appearance of shelves full of products. And some have even resorted to pasting pictures of full shelves over the empty shelves. Honestly… what are these people thinking?

Stores are doing their best not to draw customers’ attention to the fact that shelves are much emptier than they usually are. Some stores are filling shelves with large, out of season items like camping chairs, or “decoys” of real products. One store went so far as to cover the shelves with a sheet that had a photo of fully stocked shelves printed on it. Shopping expert Phil Lempert says that there’s a method to the deception, as empty shelves can spark panic and cause people to start hoarding.

Here’s the brief video report from Inside Edition. You really have to see some of these “solutions” in action to believe them.

The explanation being offered by some store managers is that these deceptive practices are intended to prevent people from panicking at the sight of empty shelves and going into hoarding mode, buying up everything they can fit in their carts. But does that make any sense to you? Anyone with two functional brain cells who was able to get in their car and drive to the store is going to figure out these rather lame decoys pretty quickly and would likely just start hoarding the available remaining products anyway.

Also, how dumb would you have to be to see the shelves of the cereal aisle filled up with camping chairs and simply assume that all was well and you didn’t need to worry? As for the huge plastic bottles that are actually piggy banks, if you were unable to tell the difference between those and a full bottle of soda or juice, you probably shouldn’t be entrusted to carry money around.

The bottom of the barrel has to be the pictures of shelves full of food being hung over the empty shelves. Even if you couldn’t tell it was a poster, the moment you poked your hand through it when reaching for the vegetables, the jig would be up, wouldn’t it? And isn’t that rather insulting to the customers if they’re assuming that everyone is actually dumb enough to fall for that?

If the stores want to actually do something to help, they could just impose limits on the number of items of any given product that can be rung up at the checkout aisle. Some customers will clearly be unhappy about that, but one gallon of milk is still better than none.

Of course, none of this would be necessary if the administration could take some concrete action to get more truck drivers back on the road and straighten this out. The Democrats are famously good at giving away other people’s money. Perhaps there should be some sort of temporary federal subsidy put in place to help the driving schools graduate more CDL drivers more quickly. I know that in our area, there are advertisements running every day for more bus drivers for the local school districts and they are offering starting pay rates of up to $20 per hour and a $3,000 signing bonus. The demand is there and if the offers are lucrative enough, people will show up to take the jobs. Just don’t try to pass off fake food on us to make us feel better, okay?