HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As Houston prepares to go into full winter weather mode ahead of what may be a historic ice storm, we wanted to know how Texas grocer H-E-B is preparing and what items are selling fast.
Are items flying off the shelves much like in the early stages of the pandemic?
ABC13's Melanie Lawson took these questions straight to H-E-B President Scott McClelland on Thursday for answers.
Melanie Lawson: "Have you seen more people coming in? Has there been any increase in traffic?"
Scott McClelland: "Wednesday was the single largest day of shipping products from our warehouse in H-E-B history. We're getting ready in a big way."
Melanie: "How does it compare to the holidays?"
Scott: "Our shipments out of our warehouse [on Wednesday] were actually bigger than they were before Thanksgiving or before Christmas. I think people are anticipating cold weather. They know one thing about Texas is when the weather is bad, it's hard to drive, so people are going out and stocking up for sales on categories like soup, chili meat, stew meat, soup kits, cornbread. You know, during the summer ... you never want to turn your oven on, but I think, over the next few days, you're going to want to be in the kitchen cooking with your oven on."
Melanie: "What are other items that are being purchased right now?"
Scott: "Obviously, the center of the plate is meat. We see chili meat, roasts, beef shanks, stew meat ... things that you cook in the oven. People, I think, feel that when the weather gets cold, they're going to cook different items, and they certainly do during the summer, and of course, most of those items, I know at my house, they go best with cornbread. So soup kits and cooking vegetables out of our produce departments.
[Also,] fire logs ... we're having trouble keeping up with fire logs. People are buying those because people are going to turn on their fireplaces. Then, in categories like soup and canned vegetables and canned beans."
Melanie: "What about the items that we saw getting bought early on in the pandemic, such as water and toilet paper?"
Scott: "I do think one of the things that will be interesting over the next couple of days is ... our focus, historically right now, is all on Valentine's Day. If it's going to be super cold, what are people going to eat for Valentine's Day? Are they going to go for the traditional steak and lobster? Or are they going to, instead, move over to a more cold weather item? We've got to be able to do both."
Melanie: "What do people need to know ahead of the cold weather?"
Scott: "Protect your pets and plants and realizing that it's not currently projected to snow, but if it rains and then it freezes, we actually get what's worse than snow and that's black ice. So people, most likely, are not going to want to be out in the streets or highways on Monday, [and] possibly Tuesday. They're projecting cold weather to go actually through next Friday. So, what we're seeing is people coming up and stocking up for a few days getting things for their pantries and then you just hunker down, put a fire and a good stew and make it through. It's not very often we get to celebrate cold weather."
Melanie: "What about deliveries?"
Scott: "When the weather is bad, the people say, 'Yeah, we'll take advantage of either the home delivery or the curbside pick-up so I don't have to get out of my car.' Obviously, throughout all of COVID-19, that part of our business has been growing tremendously. The good news is we built our capacity in this area and we can handle a lot of orders."
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What's flying off shelves ahead of possible ice storm?
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