Americans are not used to going to the store and seeing empty shelves in some sections. Most people shop for what they need that week knowing that if they forget something, it's easy enough to pop back into a store.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed that. Consumers may struggle to land online delivery slots and some may go to the store to stock up with plans to not return for weeks.

It's easy to see why people are tempted to hoard essential items. If you buy a month's worth of something, you don't have to go back to the store or worry about delivery. That type of thinking, however, can lead to shortages, and people not being able to get what they need, according to Walmart (WMT 0.44%) CEO Doug McMillon.

The exterior of a Walmart.

Walmart's CEO wants customers to shop week to week. Image source: Walmart.

What is Walmart's CEO saying?

McMillon acknowledged that some items -- specifically paper goods like toilet paper -- are selling out as quickly as they hit the shelves.

"There's plenty of flow coming but if everyone could just buy week-to-week rather than stocking up at this point it's going to be helpful for everybody," he told the Today Show.

Basically, while it's tempting to grab as much as you can, doing that means other people go without or have to make extra visits. Get what you need for the week and supply chain pressures ease, allowing Walmart to stay ahead of demand.

The supply chain is flowing

McMillon noted that Walmart has generally caught up when it comes to meeting the demand for food. That does not mean that every product is in stock at all times, but it does mean that you won't finish your shopping trip with major holes in your grocery list.