‘It’s insane’: COVID-19 response leads to run on freezers

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Toilet paper and sanitizing products aren’t the only things disappearing from store shelves in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders started coming down, customers started coming into appliance stores, snatching up deep freezers.

“It’s insane,” said an employee of Laninga Appliance in Byron Center.

A worker at the Home Depot on 54th Street SW in Wyoming said the rush started around March 13. Despite consistent shipments, the store is struggling to keep freezers in stock. Last week, an employee said the majority of freezers sold quickly, including the display model.

At the Home Depot off Wilson Avenue near Grandville, the story was the same. A truck had delivered a new set of freezers Thursday morning; by 4:25 p.m., only one freezer remained.

“We’re all in the same boat,” said a worker at the Lowe’s in Grandville.

Lowe’s was sold out of freezers much of last week, with only a couple floor models remaining Friday, according to the employee.

The Lowe’s worker said while trucks are coming in all the time, the store never knows when the stock will arrive.

At the Menard’s in Kalamazoo, two freezers were available Friday afternoon, but the run on the appliance was real.

The assistant manager of Menard’s said the sudden demand for freezers is likely tied to the long lines at grocery stores: people are stocking up on frozen food and buying in bulk.

For Laninga Appliance, the challenge of keeping freezers in stock is two-fold because the small business must first find the appliances to fill its shelves.

Unlike big box stores, Laninga Appliance purchases freezers directly from suppliers, which are reportedly low on inventory because of scalebacks prompted by COVID-19 precautions.

An employee of Laninga Appliance said General Electric had limited its hours and they could not reach anyone at Frigidaire to request more freezers.

When News 8 reached out to Whirlpool Corporation, the company declined to comment on whether it was ramping up production, but did issue the following statement regarding its response to COVID-19:

“We are continuing operations in line with health authorities and applicable local and state government policies,” said Chad Parks with Whirlpool.