From toaster pastries to dog food: Top 10 items people buy to prep for a hurricane

Posted: August 01, 2019 | Word Count: 670

Hurricane season is underway, and the first named storm of season, Tropical Storm Barry, already hit Louisiana. For many people located near the coasts, that means stocking up on all the things their families might need before a storm may strike.

To help people prepare, Target dug into the data in the days leading up to last summer's Hurricanes Florence and Michael and identified the top products their guests picked up to prep.

1. Toaster pastries

This was a top seller that people might not expect. Target stores in the Carolinas sold more than 10,000 toaster pastries before Hurricane Florence (with strawberry being the most popular flavor).

2. Water

This was a not-so-unexpected item. Bottled water was the most popular product guests added to their carts to prepare for a hurricane. Anyone anticipating a storm would want to stock up on bottled water in case access to clean water is unavailable. The Red Cross recommends getting one gallon per person, per day. If you’re staying at home, you should plan for two weeks’ worth; if you’re evacuating and on the move, bring three days’ worth, if possible.

3. Other non-perishable foods

Apart from toaster pastries, shoppers stocked up on a variety of non-perishable food items to keep a family going throughout any weather event when stores might be closed. Top sellers included shelf-stable, on-the-go foods and snacks like crackers, granola bars, canned tuna and soup.

4. Flashlights

Flashlights also make sense as top sellers, as severe storms are often accompanied by power outages.

5. Lanterns

Lanterns were also purchased in large quantities as a useful item to have during power outages.

6. Batteries

People living in coastal areas also bought a large number of batteries for items such as flashlights, portable radios or other items needing power.

7. Rain ponchos

Since hurricanes are usually accompanied by a lot of rain, it makes sense that many people bought ponchos to keep as dry as possible in case they had to venture outside.

8. Travel-sized personal care items

Travel-sized toothpaste and personal care products like shampoo and conditioner were also popular items. Why? They're a necessity in case people need to pack an overnight bag, and they are also featured on the Red Cross list of what to put in an emergency preparedness kit.

9. Baby products

Those with infants also stocked up on necessary supplies such as diapers and wipes for the smallest members of their family.

10. Pet products

Anyone with pets knows that they are like members of the family, so it makes sense that shoppers were purchasing supplies such as dog food before a storm.

From coast to coast, Target team members spend months ordering the products their guests need. When they know a storm is approaching, a cross-functional group of team members from human resources, corporate responsibility, properties, distribution, security and more activates to support their stores and distribution centers. They monitor weather conditions, coordinate efforts to take care of the team and put plans in place to protect their facilities.

“When a hurricane is approaching, we know that guests start creating checklists of things they might need if their power goes out or if they won’t have access to a store,” said Brandon Gatzke, senior manager on Target’s inventory operations team. “So we send as many essentials as possible to stores in potentially impacted areas.”

Last year, their crisis management team activated more than a dozen times throughout the year — from hurricanes to wildfires and tornadoes — to ensure that their guests, teams and their families could stay safe.

And after a storm hits? Their team’s work continues, starting by reaching out to every team member who may be affected to ensure their team and their families are safe. They swiftly restock stores to help guests get the things they need most. And they work with community partners to provide financial and product donations to impacted communities and help first responders quickly get supplies. In 2018, Target provided more than $3.4 million to local communities to support disaster relief.

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