The only bottled water left at a Publix in Pinellas Park on Monday were pricier brands like Voss and Fiji.
At a Walgreens nearby, employees laid out whatever flashlights the store had left across an empty cash register counter.
Gas stations across St. Petersburg wrapped pumps in plastic bags when they ran out of fuel.
Tampa Bay residents have been stocking up ahead of Hurricane Ian’s arrival, which is expected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday evening into Thursday morning. But people with last-minute needs should expect shelves to be empty ahead of the storm and possibly in the days or weeks after. Stores may also close earlier than usual to allow time for employees to get to safety.
Grocery and convenience stores see their revenues increase between 5% to 10% about three days before a hurricane hits, according to Planalytics, a data firm that tracks weather’s effect on shopping. A day before a major storm, sales can increase 30 to 50% compared to normal.
“If you’re in the Tampa Bay area in a part that could potentially be impacted by storm surge, the time to buy things is gone,” said Dennis J. Smith, at Florida’s State University’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning.