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article imagePanic buying force retailers to put limits on virus-related items

By Karen Graham     Mar 9, 2020 in World
Supermarkets in the United States and the UK are putting limits on the number of key household items and food staples that people can buy after a wave of coronavirus-related panic buying stripped shelves bare.
Target Corp. has joined Kroger Co. and a number of other retailers in the United States in limiting the number of virus-related items a customer may purchase daily, while in the United Kingdom, supermarkets like Asda, Waitrose, and Tesco, as well as pharmacist Boots, have also placed limits on the number of key food staples and household items shoppers can buy.
Target spokeswoman Danielle Schumann, in an email Monday said the retailer began restricting customers to six items per person over the weekend. Kroger made a similar move a couple of weeks ago, with a limit of five items. Other regional retailers have done the same.
In the UK, hand sanitizer, antibacterial gels and sprays, handwash, dried pasta, long-life milk, toilet paper, and some tinned vegetables are among the items that supermarkets are limiting, reports Business Insider.
The Guardian is reporting that supermarkets across the UK have been stripped of such goods after Public Health England urged members of the public to “plan ahead” in case they had to self-isolate for a couple of weeks.
The notice resulted in a wave of "panic buying" as citizens went crazy, stripping store shelves of everything from Tesco's own-brand of dried pasta and canned tomatoes to toilet paper. Ocado, the online supermarket, was rationing toilet paper rolls on Sunday evening, with customers able to buy a maximum of two 12-roll packs of Andrex.
Check out this video posted on Twitter over a fight that broke out in Australia when two customers had at it over toilet paper.
In California on Friday, one Costco store in Chino Hills had a line of about 200 people waiting for the 10 a.m. opening of the retailer. By 10:30 a.m., the store was sold out of some paper products and other items, according to customers. There was also a dwindling supply of bottled water, with members being limited to buying two cases per day.
Strangely enough, consumer spending does prop up the economy, but this kind of "frenzied" and, we might add, unneeded shopping and hoarding of items may create an unwanted market risk.
“The most important risk we see is that consumer confidence in the middle class is fragile,” Sanford Bernstein analyst Brandon Fletcher said in a note last month, per Bloomberg. “It collapsed quickly in one month in the 2018 correction and that was just about markets. Now, we have market risks and health risks at the same time. If the recession risks were plausible before, they are more real now.”
More about coronavirus, Retailers, virusrelated items, panic buying, Hoarding
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