Story at a glance

  • Around the world, people are preparing to shelter in place amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Stores are running out of supplies, including toilet paper and masks.
  • As a result, stores and companies are beginning to restrict the quantity of popular items per customer.

What goes first in a coronavirus outbreak? In stores across the world, it’s toilet paper, sanitizer and face masks. As shelves empty out faster than they can be restocked, grocery stores are starting to limit individual purchases.  

“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. Your order may be modified at time of pickup or delivery,” reads a note on Kroger’s website. 

Home Depot is limiting online purchases of face masks to 10 per customer. The U.S. chains are joining a flood of international companies in the UK, Australia and elsewhere. 

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Coles Supermarkets is no stranger to panic buying after Australia battled devastating fires in 2019

Responding on Twitter, the company said they have increased deliveries of popular products, including pantry staples, toilet paper and health care items. The company is also limiting toilet paper to four packs per customer. 

One Australian newspaper came up with a creative solution — printing eight blank pages in a recent edition for readers to use when they ran out of toilet paper. As the outbreak continues to spread, both people and companies are going to have to get more creative. 

Published on Mar 06, 2020