CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Have you gone to the grocery store recently and found some of the shelves are empty? You aren’t alone!

Many people can’t find some of their favorite and essential items since the pandemic started.

Store employees say it’s not because they don’t order the products, it’s the lack of workers to get items from the fields and warehouses to the shelves.

“You can’t find cornmeal because I was looking for that. Can’t find any of that,” Sarah Roach, a customer said.

Store employees say the demand is 25% greater than it was in 2019.

“There’s not really a shortage of product. The main issue is the shortage of workers in all stages of the game. I mean, from the processing plants to the manufacturers, to the warehouses and then straight to the retail stores,” Jeff Joseph, Bigley Piggly Wiggly Owner said.

There’s also a shortage of truck drivers to get the products from point A to point B, but some customers say it’s not a problem.

“I noticed the shelves have been empty but growing up we learned to deal with whatever is on the shelf, make a meal of it and keep it moving,” Alice Wilkins, a customer said.

Sometimes the problem is in the packaging.

“The metal cans for vegetables or the plastics for drinks and the cardboard that you need, the glass bottles that’s needed to put the products in is what’s holding up the process,” Joseph said.

Joseph says he hopes people don’t go back to panic buying like at the start of the pandemic when nobody could keep paper products and cleaning supplies on the shelves. Now he’s seeing a lack of things like pet food, baby products and sometimes water.

“Every store wants to meet their customers’ needs, and it bothers us when we can’t do that. So, we try to stay ahead of the game and follow the news and what’s going on, but sometimes it’s a guess,” Joseph said.

In addition to the lack of products, customers say they’re more concerned about the prices of the products that are continuing to go up.