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Panic buying toilet paper hits U.S. stores again with new pandemic restrictions



LOS ANGELES / NEW YORK – The toilet paper corridors are being emptied again as COVID-19 curfews and shutdowns in states from California to New York send pandemic-weary shoppers on a new climb after the essentials.

Walmart on Friday said it was “seeing pockets with lower availability than usual” for toilet paper and cleaning supplies in some communities, as infections rage almost unchecked in most of the United States.

As of Friday afternoon, 22 states have introduced restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the virus ̵

1; giving rise to a new round of panic purchases from shoppers and buying limits from retailers, including Target and Kroger, the country’s largest supermarket chain.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WMT WALMART INC. 150.24 -1.88 -1.24%
TGT TARGET CORP. 172.31 +0.94 + 0.55%
KR KROGER 32.44 -0.32 -0.98%
COST COSTCO wholesale company 381.12 -2.42 -0.63%
PG PROCTER & GAME COMPANY 139.30 -0.23 -0.16%

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Shoppers in half a dozen cities around the United States told Reuters that disinfectant wipes were sold out at discount retailers such as Walmart and Costco, as well as at Cerberus Capital-owned grocery chains Albertsons and Vons.

“Walmarts is still mostly outside Lysol napkins, and toilet paper is out again,” said Whitley Hatcher, 31, a collection specialist in Tucson, Arizona.

“Oddly enough, in places like Walgreens and Dollar Tree you can find what you need. I think people see the empty shelves in bigger stores and buy panic, ”Hatcher said.

Shelves in the section on paper towel and toilet paper are emptied in a Meijer store in Carmel, Ind., Tuesday 17 November 2020. (AP Photo / Michael Conroy)

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At a Costco in Vancouver, Washington – where new rules include temporary bans on indoor dining – included toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning wipes, gloves and Spam canned meat.

And the toilet paper hunt is back in California, where the governor on Thursday ordered a curfew on all indoor social gatherings and non-essential activities outside the home in most of the state.

Shelves in the toilet paper aisle of a Target store are empty in Vernon Hills, Ill., Thursday, November 19, 2020. (AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh)

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Shoppers said toilet paper was sold out at the Costco stores in Fresno and Los Angeles.

In San Diego, Internet marketer Melin Isa noted renewed shortage during a recent ice rink to her local Vons. “The TP aisle is bare. Large jugs of milk are mostly gone. Lots of ice cream, ”said Isa.

Charmin maker Procter & Gamble, the largest U.S. seller of toilet paper, said it runs plants 24/7 to meet demand.

Shelves normally equipped with toilet paper and paper towels are empty at a Walmart in Cranberry Township, Pa., Thursday, November 19, 2020. (AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar)

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Over the last few months, retailers have had to make major, costly changes to their supply chains to meet unexpected increases in demand.

In a response to a tweet complaining about sold-out toilet paper and paper towels, Walmart’s Sam’s Club said: “We are working to refill these items as quickly as humanly possible.”


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