March 30, 2009

The After Pesach Rush

A Long Island supermarket manager said that he considered himself “well trained” to handle the Jewish clientele for Passover. “I really read up on the holiday and am lucky in that the rabbi gave me a great deal of support.” But he and others in the food retail industry were unprepared for a non-holiday Jewish event that does not even appear on the Jewish calendar. “All of a sudden on the day after Passover customers literally raided the store buying multiple boxes of cereals, crackers and snacks.” It seems no one warned him about the mad rush to restock pantries on the day after Passover.

This year, with the end of Passover falling on Thursday night (April 16th), there will be only one day to restock and to prepare for Shabbos, which will require additional planning and a great deal of labor on Thursday night. One rabbi told me that he was unlikely to “transition back to chametz” until after Shabbos, but most kosher consumers make the changeover almost instantly. In many households on Thursday night, while the transition is being made there is the tradition of rushing to the pizza store, which they avoided for 9 days.

Some stores plan for the transition by already positioning their basic chometz items overnight on Thursday for sale the next morning. Retailers say that many customers restock slowly, first buying some basic cereals, breads and crackers and moving on to the pastas, noodles, and cakes. The manager I spoke to adjusted to the “day after” rush by opening in the early hours of the morning to make sure that all of his chometz items are well stocked. He said that it often takes the kosher purveyors “a good week to fully restock the store with all kosher products.” He joked that in the past two years he couldn’t given the post holiday rush the attention it deserved because management had called him to a meeting to discuss next Passover.