AUSTIN – Shelves have been emptied of certain products in recent weeks despite many reports advising consumers not to panic-buy items in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
This has left consumers searching for things like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, meat, eggs and more.
Many retailers, including H-E-B, have started putting purchase limits on certain items and are only letting a certain number of people in the store at any given time.
The empty shelves and struggle to find certain products led two University of Texas students to design a new website called Instok.org.
Instok allows users to search for items based on zip codes.
Rithwik Pattikonda, 19, and Darshan Bhatta, 18, are both computer science students at UT and came up with the concept after their parents struggled to find groceries, according to CBS Austin.
The website searches nearby stores like Target, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Sam’s Club and more.
There is a disclaimer though, according to Instok:
If an item is not on the shelf, it is possibly at the back or there must have been an error or delay in the store systems. This is just a tool to guide you in the right direction instead of randomly trying different stores. If you really need an item, call and speak to a store associate in advance. Please do not buy more than you need!
“Over a two -day period, Pattikonda and Bhatta say they’ve had over 17,000 visitors at their website, and their hope is for it to be useful beyond this unprecedented time,” CBS Austin reported.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.