Coronavirus; Local businesses feel the impact of COVID-19 as people prepare for social distancing indefinitely

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Shoppers stocked up on the essentials: food, water, paper towels, and toilet paper among other products all day Friday.

Grocery stores like one Chicago Jewel-Osco were left nearly empty, with shelves of pasta and canned foods picked over along with longer than usual lines.

"I only shop in the morning and nobody's here and you're in and out like that. Today, you're halfway down the aisle," said shopper Dwight Elmandorf.

Some stores seem to have been able to remain stocked as normal, even amidst the rush.

"It doesn't feel like 'oh everything is empty and the aisles are empty'. It isn't like that. It's pretty well stocked and we're getting most of the stuff that we need," said Vishal Kochal, a shopper at the West Loop Marianos.

However, Jim Sheldon found the opposite at the exact same store.

"The chicken is almost out of stock and there's a number of other things that are out of stock. You can tell people are gearing up for some hunker down time at home," Sheldon said.

Jewel, Marianos, Walgreens, Target, Walmart and others are restricting the amount of high demand products you can buy, like hand sanitizer cleaning wipes and others. All have said that they are working to get more products on the shelves.

That is not stopping a run in some stores for those very products.

"I've been to a bunch of stores recently. And I noticed that there's just pretty much no paper towels, no toilet paper or hand sanitizer," said shopper Michelle Reid at a Target in the West Loop.

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Local businesses feel the impact of COVID-19 as people prepare for social distancing indefinitely.

While businesses like supermarkets and drug stores have seen a spike in sales, some of the city's most popular restaurants say they have not had a dip in sales like this since 9/11.

The Illinois Restaurant Association told ABC-7 that current sales across the city are down 40 to 70 percent.

R.J. Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group said that customers are cancelling reservations.

"There was a trickle for the last three weeks where we saw a lot of cancelled events," Melman said.

To help, GrubHub temporarily suspended commission payments up to $100 million from impacted independent restaurants nationwide.

"It is at least thousands of dollars a month. It is a big deal and it is a lot of cash they will be keeping at their restaurant for the foreseeable future because we do not know how this will pan out," said GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney.

Millions of dollars in tax revenue are now at risk as conventions and celebrations are cancelled across the city.
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