- Kroger has put a limit on the quantity of hand sanitizer, certain cleaners like bleach, and over-the-counter cold and flu medications customers can purchase to five products per order. The retailer posted a notice on its website to alert shoppers. Tuesday afternoon, Target also sent a note to shoppers that starting this weekend, it will begin limiting the number of key products per purchase. The retailer has not specified which products this will apply to.
- Wegmans is limiting purchases of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, alcohol wipes and hydrogen peroxide to three per order, according to its site. Publix has also placed a limit of two per customer on items like hand soap, gloves, cups, plates, utensils, tissues and face masks.
- Tops Friendly Markets told a local news station that it is also limiting hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to three per customer to allow inventory for as many shoppers as possible. Southeastern Grocers and Albertsons are rationing out similar products as well.
As grocers scramble to re-supply their stores amid waves of panic buying, they're implementing purchase limits to allow more shoppers to access high-demand products, and to take pressure off company supply chains.
In a statement posted to its website, Wegmans said it's increasing supply orders in certain categories to meet the elevated demand.
"Shopping trends are mimicking what we see leading up to a weather event," Wegmans noted. "Customers are stocking up on paper products and a variety of food items, particularly those with a longer shelf life. Additionally, we’re seeing an increase in our e-commerce business and expect that demand will continue to grow.
In Texas, H-E-B is limiting sales on "certain items," according to a statement posted to its site, and trying to reassure customers.
"We know limits will help protect the supply chain in Texas," the company noted on its website. "While our customers might find our supply of some products low or temporarily out of stock, please rest assured knowing that we’re maintaining close contact with our suppliers and our partners are working around-the-clock to keep our shelves stocked.
In the last four weeks, hand sanitizer sales have grown 127.5%, mask sales have increased 173.6%, disinfectant sprays have grown 46.6% and wipes have seen a 23.8% increase, according to Nielsen.
At Costco, shoppers are flooding in to buy bulk items. During its second-quarter earnings call last week, the retailer’s chief financial officer, Richard Galanti, described stores as “beyond busy” since late-February. Toilet paper pallets sold out in under two hours, while bottled water and bagged rice has flown off shelves. Feuds have broken out over hand sanitizer, according to the Washington Post. The retailer said it is getting deliveries daily, but it’s not enough to keep up with demands.
Strained supply chains and discontented customers are challenging retailers, but the upside is an increase in sales across the store. During United Natural Foods' second-quarter earnings call Wednesday morning, chief executive Steven Spinner said the distributor is seeing higher demand for a wide range of grocery products in addition to pantry and personal health products.
"We originally saw this as being limited to those items you'd think of when stocking a pantry, but we're seeing a lift across the store," he said. "It's not just canned soups and beans and rice. It's produce and proteins, perimeter and center store, which leads us to believe there are more and more consumers spending more time eating at home."