You May Not Be Able to Find These Items on Your Next Trip to Walmart
This is what's in demand as COVID case numbers continue to climb.
In a repeat of scenes from earlier this year, major stores are seeing certain key items fly off the shelves as shoppers stock up amid surging COVID-19 numbers. And while Walmart executives are confident that we won't see the shortages of goods Americans experienced at the start of the pandemic, they recently shared what Walmart customers seem to be buying up in hard-hit areas. Read on to find out what's disappearing from Walmart, and for more on what not to buy at the superstore, check out If You Bought This at Walmart, Throw It Away Now.
“It feels to me like we’ll work through this period of time better than we did in the first wave,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on a Nov. 17 earnings call with investors, according to CNBC. He admitted, however, that the company’s supply chain is “still stressed in some places.”
Walmart US CEO John Furner highlighted how variable the situation is by location. “We do see big differences, depending on the communities that you're in," he added, according to CNN.
“I was in stores last week, and I saw variance from one state to the other, one location to the other—just depends on how people are feeling in that moment,” McMillon said.
There's been a continued rise in COVID-19 infections in the U.S., with the seven-day average of daily new cases passing 150,000 for the first time on Nov. 16, according to data from John Hopkins University. “The recent rise in COVID cases throughout the country reminds us we must remain vigilant,” McMillon said. “As we’ve done since the beginning of the outbreak, we’ll continue being disciplined about the safety protocols throughout our stores, clubs, distribution, and fulfillment centers.”
Read on to see what products McMillon and Furner said people are buying up, and for more up-to-date information on COVID-19, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Many People Need to Get Vaccinated to Stop COVID.
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"The specific categories where we have the most strain at the present time would be bath tissue and cleaning supplies," Furner said on the call.
Market research firm IRI reports that around 21 percent of paper products were out of stock during the week ending Nov. 15, up from a usual figure of around 5 percent. And for more on why toilet paper may be hard to come by, check out These Two Toilet Paper Companies Just Filed For Bankruptcy.
Some chains—including Kroger and Giant—have limited the amount of paper towels, toilet paper, and disinfecting products that shoppers can buy at once. Walmart has not implemented any storewide purchase limits on key items, but individual managers do have the power to "implement item limits based on their specific store experience to help sustain product availability," Delia Garcia, a spokesperson for Walmart, wrote in an email to CNN.
And that could come soon. IRI noted that 16 percent of household cleaning products were out of stock the week ending Nov. 15, also up from the usual 5 percent. And for more on items people are buying in bulk at stores nationwide, check out 8 Items That Are Selling Out as COVID Surges, Research Shows.
McMillon said it was "disappointing" to see "as many out-of-stocks as we have in consumables right now generally," but he said the situation is still not as bad as it was in the spring.
"People are at home more,” he added. “They’re eating at home more." And for another change at the retail giant, check out You'll Never See These in Walmart Again After a Failed 3-Year Experiment.
And bare shelves aren't the only changes you'll see at Walmart these days.
As of Saturday, Nov. 14, Walmart resumed counting customers to monitor capacity in order to restrict crowding and allow social distancing. "The vast majority of the time our stores didn't reach our self-imposed 20 percent metering capacity," Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesperson, said in a statement to CNBC. But, "out of an abundance of caution, we have resumed counting the number of people entering and leaving our stores." For more on this change, check out Walmart Is Now Doing This as Soon as You Go in the Store.