Toilet paper shortages in 2020 lead to a massive panic buying spree in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, supply chain issues and shipping delays are threatening to wipe out stocks of toilet paper again.
Retail chain Costco is jumping the gun by limiting the number of items shoppers can buy at one time.
Purchase Limitations on Key Items Such As Toilet Paper
During an earnings call Thursday, Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said that the company wants to ensure that essential items remain in stock at their stores.
As a result, Galanti said that Costco will place some purchase limits on key items. This includes toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, and cleaning products. Galanti did not specify how many items per customer will stores allow and when the purchase limits will start.
The company said that they are enacting measures to ensure that items remain in stock despite supply chain difficulties. Shipping delays and truck driver shortages are currently disrupting the supply chain and creating backlogs on the delivery of many items.
This Problem Is Different Compared To Last Year
The concerns behind the purchase limits on toilet paper and other items are different from what happened last year. At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, stores experienced unusually high demand for paper products, household cleaning supplies, and antibacterial wipes.
Many customers, fearful of the new virus, stockpiled as many items as they buy, fearing a shortage will happen soon.
“A year ago there was a shortage of merchandise,” Galanti said. “Now they’ve got plenty of merchandise but there’s two- or three-week delays on getting it delivered because there’s a limit on short-term changes to trucking and delivery needs of the suppliers, so it really is all over the board,” he explained.
Delayed Orders Due to Shipping Woes
Despite the perceived stockouts, the membership warehouse chain reported it topped analyst expectations during the last fiscal quarter that ended August 29. Costco’s shares went up less than 1% on Thursday evening.
This year remains a banner one for the retail chain. Costco stock already gained 20% this year. Its current market value is now $200.16 billion.
However, the pandemic remains a challenge for Costco’s supply chain. Other retailers are experiencing the same problems. In fact, Costco anticipated the delivery delays and placed its stock orders ahead of its usual schedules.
In addition, Galanti said that the company chartered three ocean vessels for the next year to transport containers between Asia and North America. Each vessel carries between 800 to 1,000 containers at a time.
US Truck Driver Shortage Also Disrupting Supply
In addition to the shipping issues, there is also a truck driver shortage nationwide. As a result, deliveries between ports to company warehouses are experiencing delays as freight companies are scrambling to fill in orders as soon as they can.
Kendra Hems, the president of the Trucking Association of New York (TANY) said that the shortage happened before COVID. However, the pandemic exponentially made the problem worse. She reported that the trucking problem is the same situation everywhere in the US.
As early as August, the retailer already warned customers that there might be some product limitations for its private label brand products. Social media posts also advised customers that online orders might experience delays in shipping when buying toilet paper.
Watch the Luvs 2 Travel video documenting that Costco purchase limits are back:
What do you do when faced with advisories on purchase limits? Do you stock up on items such as toilet paper at your house? Or, do you just go with the limits, knowing there’s stock when you buy next time?
Tell us how you deal with shortages. Share your comments below.