Second Round Of Toilet Paper Shortage Looming As COVID-19 Cases Spike

Paper goods are in high demand once again as panic buying begins to pick back as coronavirus cases soar and lockdown orders slowly take effect again.

Toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, and other household goods are selling out in stores across the country as well as online. Panic buying swept the nation in the early days of the outbreak, leaving a toilet paper shortage in its wake. To respond to this, stores have begun enforcing limitations on the amount that can be purchased per customer. 

“It really does have everything to do with what’s happening with COVID cases in any particular community. We’re going to be able to respond in this instance better than we did in the first half of the year, although we’re still – as a total supply chain – stressed in some places.” said Walmart’s chief executive officer Doug McMillon during a recent quarterly earnings call. Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner confirmed that toilet paper and cleaning products are seeing “the most strain.” 

Retail giant Target followed suit by limiting purchases on essentials such as disinfectant wipes, multi-purpose spray cleaner, toilet paper, and gloves. Other items such as baby products, food, and over-the-counter medications are “fast-tracked through the supply chain and prioritized for re-stocking.”

“We’ll adjust limits as needed, and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly, so more families can find the products they need,” Target said in its statement.

The response from Walmart, Target, and other major stores comes after photos began to circulate on social media, showing paper good aisles in various stores being cleared out. However, Geoff Freeman, president, and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association says that while the stores are beginning to see an increase in essential product buying, they are better prepared to meet demands this time around.

“There is no doubt the industry is a lot smarter today than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, and companies have adjusted their businesses to meet eight straight months of double-digit demand – which we expect to continue,” Freeman told USA TODAY. “Fear of shortages are often a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is why you see our retail partners back to limiting numbers on the most-purchased products. Are there some blips on the radar that could impact supply? Yes. But the fact remains we’re in a much better place than where we were in March.”  

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