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Stores are using a nifty little trick to give the illusion of full shelves

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To address what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissively and arrogantly characterized as “the tragedy of the delayed treadmill,” some grocery stores are allegedly using decoys, including cardboard placeholders, to fool, or reassure, customers that shelves are well stocked.

“It’s a tactic many stores are using to fill empty shelves,” Inside Edition reporter Jim Moret claimed, “at a time when the nation is experiencing major shortages of pretty much everything due to the supply chain crisis.”

In the video report, Moret noticed “aisle after aisle” of folding chairs in one store and shelves filled with what he described as “giant plastic piggy banks” in another.

The long-running syndicated news magazine show (33 years on the air in January) interviewed shopping analyst Phil Lempert who explained the practical, if not justifiable, rationale behind the fake-food chicanery.

“What a supermarket is trying to do is hide the fact that there are shortages. They don’t want to scare consumers at all. They also want to prevent hoarding from taking place the way it did in the beginning of COVID,” Lempert asserted about the cupboards being bare.

“We better get used to it. We’re gonna see higher prices, we’re gonna see more shortages, and frankly, we’re gonna see retailers try even harder to be able to mask the fact that their store is empty,” he cautioned.

Other stores are spreading out the available goods, or moving them up front, to make the shelves appear fuller. “They’re taking frozen pizza, for example, that maybe just you saw one of before, and now you might see six or seven of them over a bigger area to hide those empty shelves,” the supermarket guru added.

The supply chain crisis is one of many reasons why the approval rating for both President Biden and Vice President Harris is running on empty.

The Wall Street Journal claims that larger supermarket chains in the U.S. are better positioned than their lesser counterparts.

“Grocery stores in the U.S. haven’t escaped product shortages, although larger companies with access to a wide network of suppliers, capital and space have had more success working around supply-chain issues without disrupting the shopper experience…But smaller grocery retailers with less flexibility have struggled to keep shelves full and to plan for what items may show up on any given day…

“Grocery store managers said they are deploying one of the oldest techniques usually used by stores running low on produce to other sections of the store: ‘Facing up,’ or bringing the few items on a shelf to the front so customers can’t see the empty space behind. They are also increasing the number of ‘facings,’ or rows, a certain item is given on a shelf to cover gaps.”

The way stores are coping is not necessarily a phenomenon unique to America. Over in the U.K., retail food shops are also getting creative, The Guardian noted.

Supermarkets are using cardboard cutouts of fruit, vegetables and other groceries to fill gaps on shelves because supply problems combined with a shift towards smaller product ranges mean many stores are now too big…

The tactic comes as shortages of HGV drivers and pickers and packers on farms and food processing plants lead to low availability of some items in supermarkets. Problems at ports, where handlers are struggling to cope with a surge in deliveries for the festive season, are also leading to shortages…

Cardboard cutouts of expensive items such as detergents, protein powders and spirits such as gin are also sometimes used to prevent shoplifting. Pictures of the items are put on shelves to indicate availability, and shoppers must pick up the actual product at the till.

Watch the Inside Edition report embedded below:

Robert Jonathan

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