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Stocking Up for Coronavirus? Target Is Putting Purchase Limits on Some Items

By Keith Noonan - Mar 10, 2020 at 4:42PM

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The retailer is implementing new policies and increasing staff hours to better meet challenges from the coronavirus.

Target (TGT -0.62%) CEO Brian Cornell posted a letter to customers on the company's website on Tuesday, outlining actions the retailer is taking in response to COVID-19. These initiatives include limiting the purchase quantities of some key items, increasing in-store sanitation efforts, and temporarily halting in-store food samples. 

The letter did not specify exactly which items would be restricted, but a photo published by Business Insider showed a sign at a Target location stating that sales quantities of disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, and hand and face wipes were being limited to six per guest. Cornell also stated that Target would be sending more key cleaning products, medicines, and pantry items to stores as quickly as possible in order to better meet demand.

A shopping cart in a grocery store.

Image source: Getty Images.

Consumers and retailers react to novel-coronavirus challenges

With concerns about the novel coronavirus prompting some shoppers to stock up on items including toilet paper and sanitizers, Target and other retailers are trying to ensure they are better positioned to serve a large number of customers and prevent a handful of shoppers from monopolizing sought-after items. 

Some shoppers are reselling products like hand sanitizer at enormous mark ups -- more than 10 times the standard price in some instances. Customers becoming confrontational over supplies is bound to create additional headaches for retailers, and implementing measures to prevent shoppers from hoarding key items seems a sensible move.

Adapting to challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus outbreak will mean some extra expenses for Target. The company is now cleaning the screens in its checkout lanes every 30 minutes, and payroll hours are being added at each store in order to meet the new standards and staff up drive-through and order-pickup services.

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