Costco Sales Surge as Buying Creates Shortages Amid Coronavirus Panic


The coronavirus outbreak might be crippling many sectors of the economy, including the travel industry, but business at Costco and other retailers is booming.

In fact, it’s never been better with one store manager telling the Orange County Register that “it’s busier than Christmas.” If you’ve worked retail during the holidays, you know how hard that is to believe.

According to footage captured by Twitter users, scenes outside of the membership-only warehouse clubs resemble something out of a pandemic film where everyone is stocking up on supplies.

The concern surrounding coronavirus is high as the virus that originated in China and spread to over 37 countries has reached global pandemic levels.

The downside to panic buying, as show in the videos, includes hour-long lines wrapped around the Costco entrance and store shelves devoid of necessities such as face masks, sliced bread, canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, and hand sanitizer. Reports indicate that shortages have also led to disturbances amongst unruly customers.

“It’s been nuts,” Costco CFO Richard A. Galanti said on a Thursday earnings call with investors, according to The Washington Post.

He noted that sales were up 12 percent from the previous year, attributing the increased earnings directly to coronavirus concerns.

Costco isn’t the only retailer benefiting. Walmart and Target stocks have also jumped as people load up on supplies such as canned soup, instant mac and cheese, and other non-perishable items that could be beneficial during a quarantine.

“We’re getting deliveries daily, but it’s still not enough given the increased levels of demands on certain key items,” Galanti said. “It’s been a little crazy this past week in terms of outside shopping frequency and sales levels, and not only in the United States.”

The demand has forced many stores to implement purchase limits on a per-shopper basis.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informs that there is no need for Americans who are in good health to stock up on supplies, some state health departments have stressed the importance of making sure they have basic supplies at home in case of an emergency including antibiotics and medication.

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