By John Ramos

CONCORD (KPIX) — The surge in COVID-19 cases has reportedly caused a new round of panic buying days before the Thanksgiving but worries about a lack of toilet paper may be overblown.

The Costco in Concord is busy most weekends. It may have been busy by pandemic standards but there were parking spaces available in the lot. Inside, crowded aisles and long checkout lines were nonexistent.

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“All I hear is ‘Panic shopping! Panic shopping!'” said Robert Stewart of Walnut Creek. He avoided Costco and went to Safeway in Alamo instead. What he found there was also unexpected.

“There’s plenty of paper towels, there’s plenty of toilet paper in there,” he said. “I was actually shocked. I actually found sanitizing wipes as well.”

The shelves seemed well-stocked with paper products and all the usual requirements for Thanksgiving dinner. But shopper Jill McMichael said something was different.

“I would never buy this giant thing,” she said, holding up a huge package of paper towel rolls, “but it’s all that was in there. So, instead of having two- and three-packs, they’re all six- and eight-packs.”

She thinks retailers may be preparing for holiday demand that just won’t be there during the pandemic.

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“Everybody likes to get together with their friends,” she said, “I will tell you … without exception, everyone I know has canceled their plans. So, people are definitely taking a second look.”

Shopper Lyle Bursey from Concord has noticed it as well.

“One thing I do see: people are not shopping as much as they did in the previous years for Thanksgiving,” he said. “They’re not buying too much food and all that because they probably aren’t trying to have any house crowds. They want to keep everything as safe as they can.”

COVID-19 is spoiling a lot of Thanksgiving plans and traditions, nevertheless Robert Stewart was trying to stay positive.

“I just don’t know when it’s going to end,” he said. “We’re looking for a silver lining at the end of this one, you know?”

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Even if that lining is made of toilet paper.