Costco limits items including toilet paper again

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. Toilet paper is on the rationing list again.

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Initially, the company seemingly anticipated the problem being alleviated after the end of its August sales promotion.

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.

Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said Costco would begin “putting some limitations on key items,” but did not specify the limitations they are considering.

“A year ago there was a shortage of merchandise,” the chief executive reminded callers. “Now they’ve got plenty of merchandise but there’s two or three-week delays on getting it delivered.”

Galanti said the retailer had begun placing advanced orders to ensure stores could meet demand.

He also mentioned the company had noticed strong customer desire for fine jewelry, saying the stores had “sold a couple of rings in the $100,000 range,” CNBC reported.

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