Costco Limits Paper Products, Water Due to Supply Chain Delays

A shopper carries paper towels and toilet paper from a Costco
A shopper carries paper towels and toilet paper from a Costco in Hawthorne, Calif. on March 14, 2020. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News)

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Costco is bringing back purchase limits on some essential items and it’s blaming supply chain delays.

During a Sept. 23 earnings call, Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said shoppers will encounter limits on toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water and high-demand cleaning products, according to CNBC.

He didn’t share specifics on how many items warehouse members will be able to buy.

CNBC reported the shortages are different from those witnessed in the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

“A year ago there was a shortage of merchandise,” Galanti told the news site. “Now they’ve got plenty of merchandise but there’s two- or three-week delays on getting it delivered because there’s a limit on short-term changes to trucking and delivery needs of the suppliers, so it really is all over the board.”

He said the pandemic has challenged the supply chain and increased costs for all retailers. To counter shipping delays, Costco has chartered three ocean vessels for a year to transport containers between Asia and the U.S. and Canada. Each ship can carry 800 to 1,000 containers at a time, he said.

Spotty inventories and isolated out-of-stock items have become a common sight in store aisles. Reasons for the hiccups in inventory range from overseas transportation bottlenecks to staffing shortages at manufacturing plants, truck driver shortages and increased demand for some products.

This week a record number of cargo ships were reportedly anchored outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. The New York Times reported 61 ships were waiting on Sept. 23, down from 71 the past weekend.

Costco warned shoppers at the end of August some of its warehouses might have temporary limits on select items.

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