One of the first things many people do when there is a big storm in the forecast is run to the grocery store. That’s when you’ll find grocery stores packed with people pulling water, bread and eggs from near-empty shelves in an attempt to stock up before the storm.
While your local Walmart is sure to have these items on hand before bad weather occurs, they also stock up on one very specific fruit-flavored confection… strawberry Pop-Tarts.
Why Shoppers Stock Up on Pop-Tarts Before a Storm
Apparently, strawberry Pop-Tarts are a huge seller before and after big storms. Walmart officials told The New York Times in 2004 that strawberry Pop-Tarts increase in sales up to seven times their normal sale rate ahead of a hurricane. So, the major retailer always makes sure to stock their shelves with the popular toaster pastry ahead of nasty weather.
Pop-Tarts were on Walmart’s emergency merchandise list when Hurricane Florence pummeled the Carolinas in 2018. The company’s corporate website says that more than 350,000 boxes were sent to stores in the region in advance and after the hurricane.
You can eat Pop-Tarts without toasting them in the event that the power goes out during a storm the toaster pastries were specifically created to be shipped and stored without refrigeration. They are also non-perishable and made to last even if they are sitting in your cabinet or on store shelves for a while.
How the Retailer Learned Strawberry Pop-Tarts Were a Storm Hit
Walmart studied customer shopping data during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017 to assess how many boxes of strawberry Pop-Tarts should be shipped out for Hurricane Florence. But the company started using “predictive technology” long before that.
Walmart combed through trillions of bytes of shopper history after Hurricane Charley in 2004 to see if they could “start predicting” what shoppers needs would be before Hurricane Frances hit that same year.
Walmart had no idea that strawberry Pop-Tarts were such a big storm seller prior to this. So, the company stocked their shelves with strawberry Pop-Tarts ahead of the storm and sat back and watched them fly off the shelves. They’ve been mass stocking strawberry Pop-Tarts before storms ever since.