Costco has reintroduced purchase limits as evidence of COVID-19 stockpiling mounts

·2 min read
Costco
Americans appear to be returning to stockpiling as the Delta variant spreads. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
  • Costco has reintroduced purchase limits on certain products.

  • Customers have been complaining about items being out of stock for several weeks.

  • Evidence is mounting that stockpiling is returning as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Costco has reinstated purchase limits on some products as evidence mounts that Americans are stockpiling once again.

The retailer posted a note on its website Saturday warning of "temporary item limits on select items."

Purchase limits became commonplace early in the pandemic to stop people panic buying and depleting stock. Their return signals that some people are starting to think about stockpiling again as COVID-19 infections climb in the US as the Delta variant spreads.

Costco members have been complaining on Twitter about product shortages and purchase limits for several weeks.

Some Costco shoppers appeared to be resentful of others stocking up. "Did we not learn from last year at all? I pulled up to Costco and they are out of toilet paper and water. These people never learn," one person in Nevada said.

Others say it could be a sign of things to come.

Costco previously declined to comment on the complaints when contacted by Insider. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider when asked for comment on Wednesday.

Read more: Costco keeps smashing sales expectations during COVID-19 despite being 'stubborn' on digital. Here's why analysts approve of the big-box store's slower approach.

In a recent survey of 1,000 adults conducted by the analytics firm Inmar Intelligence and cited by Supermarket News, 69% of people said they would consider replenishing their stockpiles of groceries and essentials as the Delta variant surged.

Manufacturers say they're starting to feel the heat, too. Proctor & Gamble, the biggest producer of toilet paper in the US, told The Wall Street Journal that it's running its factories round the clock to keep up with soaring demand. Some of the retailers it supplies to told The Journal that it's also putting limits on how much toilet paper they can buy, and they're struggling to keep this item in stock.

It's not only the return of stockpiling habits that are causing havoc in the supply chain. The labor crunch is continuing to cause delays and shortages.

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