Costco purchase limits return, charters ships to get goods to U.S. amid shortages

Shoppers walk in front of a Costco store on February 25, 2021, in Inglewood, California.
Shoppers walk in front of a Costco store on February 25, 2021, in Inglewood, California. Photo credit Mario Tama/Getty Images

Costco said Thursday it had chartered three ships to help get its wholesale goods to consumers in the U.S. amid nationwide shortages that have prompted the return of purchase quantity limitations.

In August, the discount retailer alerted customers that it had begun restricting the number of items customers could purchase for several goods, including grocery and household products. Initially, the company seemingly anticipated the problem being alleviated after the end of its August sales promotion.

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But in an earnings conference call Thursday, executives revealed customers would once again see limitations. The wholesale corporation also announced it had chartered three ocean vessels that would transport merchandise containers from Asia to the U.S. and Canada.

The company said the ships would be in service throughout the following year. Each vessel carries up to 1,000 containers, the leadership said.

Stores began limiting bottled water purchases, ground coffee, diapers, mattresses, cleaning supplies, and more in August. Shipping delays and a shortage of truck drivers have strained stores’ product availability nationwide.