Jewel-Osco limiting purchases, Instacart deliveries surge in response to coronavirus fears
Jewel-Osco stores are setting limits on purchases of certain products as coronavirus fears set off panic buying of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
The supermarket chain is the latest retailer to restrict sales in response to shoppers hoarding supplies in anticipation of the spread of the coronavirus. The demand also has strained grocery delivery services and left Amazon trying to crack down on price gouging by third-party sellers.
Kroger has limited the number of "sanitization, cold and flu related products" to five each per order. In Naperville, Costco shoppers can buy only up to five packs of bottled water.
At a Jewel in Wheaton, the store has run out of hand sanitizer, and cashiers have started wearing surgical gloves. The company also has eliminated unattended food sampling as a result of coronavirus concerns.
"Naturally, inventory of any product will vary from store to store," Jewel-Osco spokeswoman Mary Frances Trucco said via email Friday. "At this time, we are placing limits on the number of products a customer can purchase in certain categories. Customers should check with their local Jewel-Osco about specific stock levels. When products run low, we replenish them as soon as the supply chain allows."
Online shoppers are increasingly using Instacart to have their groceries left at their doorsteps without any human contact. The company makes home deliveries from nearly 1,000 store locations across Illinois, including Aldi, Jewel-Osco, Costco, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and Binny's Beverage Depot.
Instacart has launched a new feature -- "Leave at My Door Delivery" -- to give customers the option of having their groceries dropped off at their doorsteps during a designated delivery time frame rather than receiving their orders in-person.
The San Francisco-based company initially rolled out the feature to a subset of users as a matter of convenience for customers who wouldn't be home at the time of their deliveries. But amid growing alarm over the health crisis, Instacart has experienced a surge in customer adoption over the past week. The company on Thursday made the "leave at my door" option available to all shoppers at checkout.
Sales in California, Washington, Oregon and New York also have soared by 20 times.
"Over the last few days, we've seen a surge in customer demand for pantry items such as powdered milk and canned goods, as well as personal care products like hand sanitizer and vitamins," the company said in a statement. "We remain fully operational across North America. Our goal is to continue to work with and serve the entire Instacart community safely, while also ensuring our customers have access to uninterrupted delivery and pickup services for the groceries and household essentials they need."
Federal agencies have recommended storing 14 days of supplies. That's the length of time you might be stuck at home if you were asked to self-quarantine to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.