First, it was face masks that disappeared last month after a run on stores by nervous consumers. Now, it is hand sanitizer and wipes, and grocery chains are beginning to place limits on how much people can buy.
Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, posted a message on its website: "Due to high demand and to support all customers, we will be limiting the number of Sanitization, Cold and Flu related products to 5 each per order."
That applies to items like Purell hand sanitizer, Tylenol, Nyquil, and other items.
Tenisha Stewart heading into a Walgreens to grab a couple of supplies to keep her family safe.
"Clorox wipes and Lysol," she said. "That's about it."
She was not clearing the shelves, but rather making a smart purchase with coronavirus fears everywhere.
Pharmacists plead with customers to think of others
Pharmacists are even blunter than Kroger. They're begging people to stop hoarding. They are sounding the alarm because other people are buying too many supplies at once.
Pharmacist Troy Stinson, who works at Mullaney's Pharmacy in Cincinnati, said the store ran out of medical face masks weeks ago after nervous shoppers grabbed them all — and his phones keep ringing.
"We're still having people call about face masks," he said. "We're having people coming in and asking for masks, and people are looking for hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes."
But now, his supply of hand sanitizer is running very low. — and that's the case at drugstores everywhere.
At least one Walgreens store in the Cincinnati area was completely sold out of hand sanitizer — sanitizer shelf looked just as empty as the surgical face mask shelf did two weeks ago.
Pharmacists say it's a good idea for everyone to have a bottle or two of hand sanitizer in their home. However, they ask that when customers walk into a store and see three or four bottles left, to think of others and not buy it all up.
"It is completely unnecessary to buy those all," Stinson said. "If you want to have one in hand, it's a good idea to have, but it's not necessary to buy all of them."
Stores racing to refill shelves
But that's what's happening at some Sam's Clubs and Costco stores, where social media photos from New York, California and elsewhere show shoppers buying all the toilet paper and bottled water in sight.
Scott Pope, a spokesman for Walmart, the owner of Sam's Club, said they are resupplying as quickly as they can and readjusting their ordering.
"We're working with our suppliers to understand and mitigate any supply chain disruptions," he said. "Providing customers with the products they need remains our focus."
But it's a lot tougher to keep stores stocked when people are hoarding.
A few bottles of hand sanitizer is a great idea. Stashing enough for a small army in your home is selfish. So think of others, and don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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