Grocery Stores Are Limiting These Products Again. Here's Why

Remember last March when you couldn't find toilet paper anywhere? That's the exact problem that retailers and grocers around the country are trying to avoid. As America switched from mass consumption of commercial products and office work, our supply chain was disrupted for residential supplies like toilet paper and paper towels. In addition, we all started using sanitizer and disinfectant wipes like we never had before. Specifically, In the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, sales of aerosol disinfectants jumped 230.5 percent, while multipurpose cleaner sales rose 109.1 percent (via CNN). Clorox wipes alone saw a 500 percent jump in demand, according to the company's Chairman and CEO Benno Dorer (via Today).

What you may not be aware of is that the supply chain never fully recovered or fully reorganized. As we approach a new cold and flu season, while still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, grocers are looking to avoid the widespread shortages we experienced earlier by limiting supplies now. So what can you expect?

Purchases will be limited at major retailers

Purchase limits will vary based on the store where you are buying the product and the type of product itself. For example, Texas chain H-E-B placed a 2-per-person limit on a large number of disinfectants (and also beef brisket?) on October 21st (via H-E-B). The chain added an additional limit on toilet paper and paper towels later in October, but only for stores in the Border, Central Texas, Gulf Coast, and San Antonio. Giant, an east coast food retailer added restrictions, too, with strict limitations of one 6-pack or larger of toilet paper and paper towels or four 4-packs and smaller counts such as single rolls (via Penn Live). But the company stressed Giant is seeing little evidence of panic buying.

More widespread restrictions may affect readers who shop at Kroger, which represents popular brands including Fred Meyer, QFC, and Ralph's (via Kroger). The company is placing 2-per-person limits on bath tissue, paper towels, disinfecting wipes, and hand soap (via CNN). So don't panic, but do purchase smartly. It's going to take time for everything to get back to normal and there's still a long way to go. Prepare – don't hoard.