Some Philadelphia-area supermarkets and big-box stores are limiting the amount of cleaning supplies and pantry staples that customers are allowed to buy as people stockpile items amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

Public health officials have generally recommended against stockpiling items. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, said Wednesday that people should buy the things they normally buy, because otherwise it causes a domino effect that then leads to more stockpiling.

But that message hasn’t stopped stores across the region finding themselves unable to keep up with the demand for hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, toilet paper, and pantry staples. And the restrictions are fluid and could change. For example, at Acme supermarkets across the region, five-item limits have been placed on anything deemed “we just can’t get it at this point,” said company spokesperson Dana Ward.

Here’s what area stores are doing in terms of purchase limitations:


Acme Markets, which operates more than 160 stores in the region, is limiting some purchases to five items per customer at all its stores, a company spokesperson said Thursday. That includes cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and pantry staples.


Costco locations have posted signage indicating customers at the members-only store can buy just two units of some products, including sanitizers and toilet paper, per day.


Giant Food Stores have not mandated purchase limitations. In a statement, the company said it is “working diligently with our suppliers to keep high-demand products in stock, such as hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, paper towels, toilet tissue, bleach and other cleaning products.”


ShopRite, which operates grocery stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and a handful of other Mid-Atlantic states, said in a message to customers that they have placed limits on sanitizing wipes, bar and liquid soaps, water, cough/cold medicines, and “other key categories.” Signs at some stores indicated customers were limited to buying four of each of the following: fever-reducing medicine, alcohol and peroxide, gloves, masks, sanitizers, bleach, and bottled water.


Target Corp. officials said in a statement that the big-box store is taking some steps to limit purchases. “As demand for cleaning products, medicine, pantry stock-up items and more remains high, we’re sending more products to our stores as quickly as possible,” CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement.

Customers at local Target locations encountered limits of six items on products including disinfectants and sanitizers for both hands and surfaces.


Walmart Corp. has not yet required stores to place purchasing limits on some items, but individual store managers may do so at their discretion, so limitations vary from store to store.


Wegmans, which operates several stores in the Philadelphia suburbs and southern New Jersey, has placed strict limits on the sale of several items. Customers are limited to three bottles of hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, alcohol wipes, and hydrogen peroxide per order.

Customers are also limited to just one family pack of Wegmans toilet paper per order.