America’s Girl Scouts have an unusual problem this year: 15 million boxes of unsold cookies.
The 109-year-old organization says the coronavirus – and not the low demand for its Thin Mints – is the main culprit. As the pandemic ushered in the spring sales season, many troops turned down their traditional stalls to guard against the virus.
“It’s unfortunate, but since it’s a girl-run program and most of the cookies are sold in person, that was to be expected,” said Kelly Parisi, a Girl Scouts of the USA spokeswoman.
The impact will be felt by local councils and troops, who depend on cookie sales to fund programs, trips, camps and other activities. Girl Scouts typically sell about 200 million boxes of cookies each year, the equivalent of about $ 800 million.
Rebecca Latham, Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails CEO, said her council had 22,000 boxes left over at the end of the selling season, though the girls tried innovative methods like self-service selling and contactless delivery.
Latham said troops in his area sold 805,000 boxes of cookies last year. This year, they sold less than 600,000. That reduction means the council will likely not be able to invest in improving its camp infrastructure or hiring staff, he said.
The council is now trying to motivate people to buy boxes online through its Hometown Heroes program, which distributes cookies to health workers, firefighters and others.
Parisi said Girl Scouts of the USA predicted that sales would decline this year due to the pandemic. However, restrictions were constantly changing, and requests from its 111 local councils to growers late last year were overly optimistic.