As local and federal governments implement lockdown restrictions, people are stocking up on some key items. But hoarding has resulted in others not getting access to those goods at all. To even things out, several stores, including Costco, Target, and others have purchase limits. A lot of these items are high-demand, but stores only receive so much stock at once.
While experts work to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus, retailers want to spread the distribution of certain items such as baby wipes, toilet paper, and certain foods. Some consumers may hit a roadblock when they go to the store with a certain list in mind only to find they are restricted. So, it is good to know ahead of time what they can get and how much.
There are purchase limits on food and sanitation products
Soon after the coronavirus hit America, people stocked up on toilet paper. A lot of jokes flooded in to combat the apparent shortage. But the humor does not make restrictions go away. So, when you go shopping, what can you get, and how much can you purchase during one trip? Most of the items with purchase limits are the ones that got wiped out quickly when people started hoarding. This includes toilet paper, baby wipes, water, pasta, and some dairy items.
Costco has a purchase limit of two units of bottled water and toilet paper. Business Insider also reports that the retailer is limiting how many people go into the warehouse at once. According to its website, Walmart limiting the number of “paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food” patrons can buy. Target’s own website reflects a similar sentiment. Its limitations encompass “hand sanitizer, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, dry goods like soup and pasta, food like milk and eggs, bottled water and more.” Costco’s two-per-person policy is visible at Aldi for pasta, paper towels, and toilet paper. Stop & Shop has a similar limit, though it extends to five-per-person. Wegmans has closed some in-store features and is imposing purchase limits on “high demand” items, though the website does not specify further.
Restrictions trickled down from supplier to provider
Karan Girotra, professor of operations, technology and information management at Cornell University, wants to make a certain point clear, though. The stores themselves don’t do this by choice, rather, it trickles down from the top. “It goes all the way up the supply chain,” he explains. “It’s not just stores [enforcing purchase limits], it’s distributors doing it to the stores, and the producer doing it to different distributors.”
As the demand for essential items rises under the threat of quarantine, Americans want to get these important items. To make sure everyone can get something, stores get only so much stock at a time. Part of this is due to unprecedented sales increases. Indeed, data from a Nielsen representative puts toilet paper sales at a 212.7% increase from last year. Hand sanitizer is close behind at a 207.5% increase, with paper towel sales following behind at 154.4%. Ultimately, Girotra asserts, “It’s about making sure more people have enough of what they need, rather than some people having some of what they need.” Some additional restrictions might be in place on a regional basis. Be sure to plan your lists carefully and budget items as needed.