Walgreens Is Barring Shoppers From Doing This, Effective Immediately
The company has made a new policy change amid the Omicron surge.
Like most retailers, Walgreens has gone through its fair share of changes over the past two years. In 2020, the pharmacy chain introduced a mask mandate in stores as a result of the pandemic, and this year, Walgreens permanently shuttered five of its stores in San Francisco, California, over what the company called "organized retail crime." Now, Walgreens has just issued a new policy ahead of the holidays that will also affect customers. Read on to find out what the pharmacy chain is now barring shoppers from doing.
Walgreens is limiting how many at-home COVID tests shoppers can buy.
On Dec. 21, Walgreens announced that it would be limiting purchases of at-home COVID tests, as reported by CNBC. According to the company, shoppers are now only allowed to buy four tests at a time in its stores. The news outlet reported that Walgreens is also placing a four-product limit on tests bought online, although all rapid COVID tests are currently listed as "out of stock for shipping" on the company's website.
The pharmacy chain says there has been an increase in demand for these tests recently.
Walgreens is placing this limit as shoppers scramble to stock up on tests ahead of the holidays and amid the spread of the new Omicron variant. Walgreens spokesperson Emily Hartwig-Mekstan told CNBC that there has been an "unprecedented increase in demand" for rapid at-home COVID tests recently, which started after Thanksgiving and has continued through the week of Christmas.
"Due to the incredible demand for at-home rapid testing, we put in effect a four-item purchase limit on at-home COVID-19 testing products in our stores and digital properties in an effort to help improve inventory while we continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands," Hartwig-Mekstan said.
Other pharmacies are also struggling to keep up with demand for these tests.
Walgreens is not the only pharmacy struggling with an increased demand for at-home tests thanks to the Omicron surge and holiday gatherings. According to CNBC, CVS Health said it has also experienced more demand and is working to restock inventory of tests at its stores as quickly as possible. So far, this pharmacy chain has not put a purchasing limit on at-home tests for shoppers.
"In the event a local store experiences a temporary shortage, our teams have a process in place to replenish supply," CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis told CNBC, without providing detail on what the company's process is.
But in a statement to The Washington Post, Matthew Blanchette, another CVS spokesperson, warned that an online shortage of tests is possible. "Due to a recent surge in demand, and to retain community-based access to tests in our stores, there may be temporary out-of-stocks for these products on CVS.com," he said.
The White House is planning to send at-home tests to people in the U.S.
As rapid tests become harder and harder to find, President Joe Biden announced on Dec. 21 that the White House will be sending tests to people in the U.S. Per CNN, he revealed the purchase of a half-billion at-home rapid COVID tests alongside a plan to distribute them for free to people in the country who request them through a corresponding website.
"We're working through all the details. And we'll have those in the coming weeks," a senior administration official said during a briefing with CNN. According to the official, 500 million tests will be available to mail in January, but the administration is still working to determine how many tests each household will be able to request and how quickly the tests will be shipped out.