Costco limits purchases of toilet paper, water as supply chain shortage and Delta push demand

Bulk retail giant is attempting to avoid the runs on home goods that characterized spring 2020
Costco in Mount Prospect, Illinois
Costco in Mount Prospect, Illinois
(Tim Boyle / Getty Images)

To avoid a repeat run on toilet paper of the sort that left shelves barren last year during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, bulk retailer Costco will limit the number of rolls a customer can buy as the Delta variant surges.

Last week, during the retail giant's fourth-quarter earnings call, the company confirmed it would be "putting some limitations on key items," including toilet paper, cleaning products and Kirkland Signature water.

It is unclear exactly what those limitations will look like, but Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti pointed toward the "uptick in Delta-related demand" as their cause.

Galanti added that supply chains have been disrupted by "port delays; container shortages; COVID disruptions; shortages on various components, raw materials and ingredients; labor cost pressures; and trucker and driver shortages."

He said that while last year there was a product shortage, this year, this is plenty of product, but significantly delayed delivery times due to the above factors.

Galanti says Costco has been "ordering as much as we can and getting it in earlier," an effort that has included chartering three ocean vessels to transport containers between the U.S., Canada, and Asia.