In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are stocking up on essential items at retailers around the country. However, depending on where you shop, you might not be able to purchase as much as originally planned.

On March 12, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA -0.23%) joined the ranks of Kroger (KR 0.56%), Target (TGT 1.28%), and Walmart (WMT -0.65%) in limiting the sale of certain high-demand products. For Walgreens, these high-demand products reportedly include face masks and disinfectant wipes. In Kroger's case, it's been limiting the sale of cold medicine and sanitary products since March 2.

A woman holds a shopping basket in a pharmacy.

Image source: Getty Images.

The growing impact of the coronavirus

In addition to limiting purchases, Walgreens is proactively doing its part to slow the spread of COVID-19. It's keeping its stores clean to avoid having the virus sitting on surfaces. But it's also encouraging customers to stay home by waiving fees for prescription deliveries and offering free shipping on any purchase made on the Walgreens website or mobile app.

Kroger is making similar efforts by cleaning bathrooms more regularly, providing employees with extra hand sanitizer, and disinfecting high traffic areas like self checkout -- as is Target. Walmart is increasing its cleaning regimen in its stores, as well, and is even considering a change in hours for 24-hour locations to allow for a more thorough cleaning.

Consumers are undoubtedly pleased that Walgreens and others will be cleaner during this time. But they aren't likely thrilled with the idea of being limited on purchases. However, without these purchase limits, it's difficult for retailers to keep crucial consumer staples on the shelves as fears related to the global pandemic mount. Shortages are already being reported of toilet paper at some retailers.