One of the many unfortunate by-products of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has been hoarding and panic shopping. People all over the country have been overbuying products like paper towels, nonperishable foods, and hand sanitizer, leaving store shelves bare. In response, some signs spotted recently suggest that Costco won't accept returns on essential items like toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, rice, and more, which might curtail future hoarding and over-buying.
As the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has continued to spread through the United States, shuttering schools and businesses, shelves in supermarkets have been emptied out due to people stockpiling essential items, perhaps out of a fear that there will be a shortage and their own family will have to go without. Naturally, this hoarding has left many people frustrated as they can't find important items for their own families.
However, for those who over-purchased some of high-demand items at Costco and had hoped to return them will likely be disappointed. While Romper's request from Costco was not immediately returned, several photos of signs seen in stores suggest the company is not allowing customers to return toilet paper, paper towels, rice, water, sanitizing wipes, and Lysol.
Photos of the signs have been shared by several Costco Instagram accounts, which are not affiliated with the stores themselves, and it remains unclear whether or not this is a chain-wide policy or a store-by-store decision. It's also unclear exactly why Costco won't accept returns on these items, although a Costco employee told Business Insider the decision was supposedly made because stores would not be able to resell the products after they've left the building.
Some social media users have praised the move, hoping it will discourage shoppers from hoarding essential items and leave enough stock on the shelves for everyone else. "Attention supply hoarders, if you made your purchases and planned to return the unused portions back to Costco? I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But, #Denied," one person tweeted with a photo of a sign seen in Costco.
In the weeks since COVID-19 has become a pandemic, Costco has taken several steps to try to help their customers, such as offering early shopping hours for elderly people and those with disabilities who are more vulnerable to the virus. The stores are also limiting staff members and asking those that remain to practice safe social distancing with customers as well as sanitizing surfaces.
As for high-demand products, Costco says on its website that "limits have been implemented on certain items to help ensure more members are able to access the merchandise they want and need. Our buyers and suppliers are working to ensure in-demand merchandise as well as everyday favorites are available in our warehouses."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.