Costco confirms it's limiting toilet paper and water purchases, as customers start to stockpile amid the spread of the Delta variant

·2 min read
Costco
Costco has reinstated purchase limits on toilet paper. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
  • Costco is limiting the amount of toilet paper and water customers can buy in its stores.

  • Demand for these items is soaring as customers stock up amid the spread of the Delta variant.

  • Customers have been complaining about product shortages at Costco on Twitter for several weeks.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Costco's purchase limits on key items are back.

The warehouse chain confirmed in a call with analysts on Thursday that it had reinstated purchase limits on items such as toilet paper and packs of its private-label Kirkland water to prevent shortages. Customers are buying more and more of these items amid the spread of the Delta variant in the US, it said.

Insider reported on Costco's purchase limits earlier this month. Costco had not previously confirmed which items were limited or that the limits were a reaction to spikes in demand.

Last month, Costco shoppers began saying there were toilet paper shortages, and some customers said they may stockpile the item.

"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.

Grocery chains used purchase limits in the early days of the pandemic to prevent product shortages.

Costco imposed the latest limits in reaction to "the uptick in the Delta-related demand," Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said in a call with analysts Thursday.

It's not just customer demand for certain items that is causing shortages: Galanti told analysts that supply-chain issues were also a problem for the retailer.

He used antibacterial wipes as an example, without specifying which brand.

"A year ago there was a shortage of merchandise, now they've got plenty of merchandise, but there's two- to three-week delays on getting it delivered," he said.

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