Crazy at Irvine Costco as shoppers stock up, fearful of supply shortages as a result of coronavirus

Customers scramble to purchase toilet paper at the Costco store on Technology Drive in Irvine, fearing supply shortages as a result of coronavirus. / Photo:

“We’re out of disinfectant wipes,” the Costco greeter shouted, as shoppers entered the Costco store on Technology Drive in Irvine this morning. “This is the only container we have,” she added, pointing to the one she was holding. She handed them to any shopper who waited long enough to take one to disinfect their cart. The rest of the shoppers flew past her, some at a run, to grab water and toilet paper before the shelves are once again bare.

Costco in Irvine has imposed a two-item limit on some brands. / Photo:

While there are currently no known cases of individuals infected with coronavirus in Irvine, it’s clear consumers are following the news reports of the spread of the virus in the U.S. and in California, and its impact on supply chains.

An earlier check on the shelves at Walmart – located in the same center as Costco on Technology Drive in Irvine – showed no toilet paper on the shelves at 7:45 a.m.

Empty shelves at 7:45 a.m. on March 7 at Walmart on Technology Drive in Irvine. Toilet paper was sold out after a rush by customers to stock up, fearing supply shortages. / Photo:

“We ran out yesterday, too,” the receipt checker at Walmart’s exit said. “I need to buy some myself.”

Back at Costco, what looked like a truckload of toilet paper was available next to the freezer section. It was going fast. Nearby, pallets of Kirkland water was stacked next to the refrigerated items so that shoppers wouldn’t have to go all the way to the back of the store to find it. Costco staff members directed “cart traffic” as people tried to make their way through the crowd.

Costco signage hangs over all items that have quantity limits. / Photo:

Costco posted signs indicating that there were limits on quantities shoppers can purchase. Customers are able to buy just two of the following:

  • All plain water items
  • All toilet paper brands
  • All paper towel brands
  • All Tissue brands
  • All wipes: disinfecting, baby and flushables (note: they were already out of disinfecting wipe)

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