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Costco and Coronavirus Panic-Shopping

DaveNV

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I wasn't going to post anything here about stocking up in preparation of a widespread Coronavirus epidemic, but what happened today kind of changed my mind.

My spouse just got home, literally exhausted, from a very long day working at Costco. The projected sales for the day in our warehouse was supposed to be about $620,000. They did 30% higher than that - more than $825,000. This is AFTER they did over $1Million EACH DAY this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Crowds were literally out the door.

Those are incredible numbers for our warehouse, and it's all based on panic shopping. People were buying everything in sight, and in huge quantities. People were buying PALLETS of toilet paper (seriously.) The warehouse ran out of toilet paper before noon today. They sold almost all their bottled water. Many other things - way too much to name. It was absolutely insane.

I won't begin to debate the seriousness of the Coronavirus issue. But I will ask everyone who shops at Costco to slow down and think about what you're doing. Because if things go the way they did for Y2K, (a previous time this sort of thing happened), the lines at the Refund Desk are going to be INSANE. People don't have room to store brick after brick of toilet paper, and other things like it. So they're going to want to bring it back. And so will you. YOU are going to be the person standing in those very, very long lines. Lines that will last all day long, for days on end.

Remember, too, if you return any sort of perishable food product, it'll go right into the trash can. Think about that sort of waste. They can't put it back on the shelf, because they can't say where it's been, or how it was handled. If you wouldn't buy something that was returned like that, you can't expect anyone else to buy it, either.

I'm asking everyone to be smart about how you're shopping right now, especially at Costco. Do yourself, and everyone else a favor, and please don't overshop in a panic. My spouse, the long-suffering soul who will be giving you your refunds, and every other refund cashier in the company, thanks you for your consideration.

Dave
 

CO skier

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Wife returned yesterday from a Costco run and reported that there were no super-paks of toilet paper that she usually buys. She asked; they were sold out for the previous three days.

I was in Home Depot today and saw a 12-pak of Charmin for $17. Hero.
 

rhonda

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Huh. How interesting.

I stopped at Costco in Temecula for fuel on Saturday. I figured I'd run in for a few fresh food items ... but the parking lot was crazy busy. I quickly gave up and went, instead to Sprouts. Later that evening, I mentioned the insane parking to my husband. He said he saw the same coming up from Costco Poway; he stopped for fuel but found the store parking area too busy and gave up.

Thanks, Dave, for explaining what might have been causing the craziness on Saturday.
 

easyrider

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Our Costco must be like your Costco. Water and toilet paper are gone I'm told. The local Home Depot, Lowes and Ace Hardware sold out of dust masks. Supposedly we have a Corona Virus case in our community is what was reported. The Health District hasn't confirmed this is a case of Corona but they did put out the alert and cut some lime. Hard to say when all of this will settle.

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Those are incredible numbers for our warehouse, and it's all based on panic shopping. People were buying everything in sight, and in huge quantities. People were buying PALLETS of toilet paper (seriously.) The warehouse ran out of toilet paper before noon today. They sold almost all their bottled water. Many other things - way too much to name. It was absolutely insane.

 

VacationForever

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I did only one Costco run to stock up last Thu. Nothing insane. Just regular stuff - one bag of toilet paper, one bag of Bounty kitchen towel, 2 Morton's tri-tip that went into the freezer, 1 bag of frozen salmon patties, 1 box of marinated wild salmon, 1 box of canned fruits and 3 packets of canned chicken. No water - don't need. Water will keep coming out of our tap and fridge, filtered. Today we went to a grocery store and my husband picked up one more bag of toilet rolls so I think we are well stocked. :)
 
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Ken555

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I went Saturday...it was crowded, but they weren’t out of much that I could see at my local store. It’s good to be prepared to have to stay home for a while if you get sick, and to keep it clean.

I’m actually surprised and a bit disappointed that Dave is comparing Y2K (a computer issue that was feared to impact systems all of types...and didn’t since it was “cured”in time) to a deadly virus that currently has no cure in any way.

FWIW, I have no intention of returning anything I purchased to Costco. Besides, isn’t that what the return policy is for? Isn’t that one of the reasons why Costco has a loyal customer base? I sympathize with your wife and the possibility of her having long lines of people to assist, but...c’mon, I think this thread is totally inappropriate.


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DaveNV

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I’m actually surprised and a bit disappointed that Dave is comparing Y2K (a computer issue that was feared to impact systems all of types...and didn’t since it was “cured”in time) to a deadly virus that currently has no cure in any way.

Ken, if you read my post again, I specifically said I wasn't going to debate the seriousness of the virus. This isn't about that at all. My post was about the insane panic buying going on, as it was when Y2K was happening. Different reasons, but same downstream effect. People bought TONS more than they needed, and after things calmed down, they brought TONS of it back. The overload on the system was staggering. I'm only asking people to stop and think smartly before buying more (in some cases MUCH more), than they need.

The refund policy exists exactly for what you said. But those same people who are panic-buying now are the ones who are going to bitch their heads off after standing in those long lines. It's a direct cause and effect situation. :)

Dave
 
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easyrider

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The panic buying has propelled Costco's stock price upward.

I saw that COST was a winner up almost 10% today. FTSV was up 61% today. Forty Seven inc is a cancer drug therapy company that was bought out by Gilead Science who is working with a Chinese company that wants to patent a Corona Virus therapy or vaccine is what I think .

Bill
 

Ken555

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Ken, if you read my post again, I specifically said I wasn't going to debate the seriousness of the virus. This isn't about that at all. My post was about the insane panic buying going on, as it was when Y2K was happening. Different reasons, but same downstream effect. People bought TONS more than they needed, and after things calmed down, they brought TONS of it back. The overload on the system was staggering. I'm only asking people to stop and think smartly before buying more (in some cases MUCH more), than they need.

The refund policy exists exactly for what you said. But those same people who are panic-buying now are the ones who are going to bitch their heads off after standing in those long lines. It's a direct cause and effect situation. :)

Dave

Dave,

I appreciate your intent, but I feel that this is entirely inappropriate.

Ken


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Ken555

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I don't even have a Costco card, but I am on Dave's side on this one. The underlying message I get is "waste not, want not" .

I think it takes real hubris to provide this advice in an attempt to limit work for a for profit enterprise like Costco. This thread has nothing to do with "waste not, want not" as Dave stated clearly that it's to reduce the return line, customer wait, and work for Costco employees.

It's a good thing no one here works for Amazon or cares about their employees, since I'm sure they handle significantly more returns than Costco. Perspective, folks.
 

bizaro86

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I think it's reasonable to extend the courtesy to both the employees at retail outlets and other customers of buying a reasonable amount of products you need.

I doubt anyone needs a pallet worth of toilet paper, and the folks buying a 3 year supply of TP make it unpleasant for anyone who happens to be running low.

The same applies to everything else (canned goods, sanitizer, etc). I actually think, "will I be able to use this in a reasonable amount of time such that I won't need to return it" would be a reasonable mental model for deciding whether its rational to purchase something.
 

Ken555

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I think it's reasonable to extend the courtesy to both the employees at retail outlets and other customers of buying a reasonable amount of products you need.

I doubt anyone needs a pallet worth of toilet paper, and the folks buying a 3 year supply of TP make it unpleasant for anyone who happens to be running low.

The same applies to everything else (canned goods, sanitizer, etc). I actually think, "will I be able to use this in a reasonable amount of time such that I won't need to return it" would be a reasonable mental model for deciding whether its rational to purchase something.

Please don’t misunderstand. I absolutely agree that people should only buy what they need. But that’s not the real reason or message of this thread. The purpose of this thread is to reduce waiting time for people returning items, lowering their frustration (and undoubtedly the venting of that frustration at Costco employees), and reducing the work of Costco employees. That’s why I think this is an inappropriate thread.


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Brett

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I wasn't going to post anything here about stocking up in preparation of a widespread Coronavirus epidemic, but what happened today kind of changed my mind.

My spouse just got home, literally exhausted, from a very long day working at Costco. The projected sales for the day in our warehouse was supposed to be about $620,000. They did 30% higher than that - more than $825,000. This is AFTER they did over $1Million EACH DAY this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Crowds were literally out the door.

Those are incredible numbers for our warehouse, and it's all based on panic shopping. People were buying everything in sight, and in huge quantities. People were buying PALLETS of toilet paper (seriously.) The warehouse ran out of toilet paper before noon today. They sold almost all their bottled water. Many other things - way too much to name. It was absolutely insane.

I won't begin to debate the seriousness of the Coronavirus issue. But I will ask everyone who shops at Costco to slow down and think about what you're doing. Because if things go the way they did for Y2K, (a previous time this sort of thing happened), the lines at the Refund Desk are going to be INSANE. People don't have room to store brick after brick of toilet paper, and other things like it. So they're going to want to bring it back. And so will you. YOU are going to be the person standing in those very, very long lines. Lines that will last all day long, for days on end.

Remember, too, if you return any sort of perishable food product, it'll go right into the trash can. Think about that sort of waste. They can't put it back on the shelf, because they can't say where it's been, or how it was handled. If you wouldn't buy something that was returned like that, you can't expect anyone else to buy it, either.

I'm asking everyone to be smart about how you're shopping right now, especially at Costco. Do yourself, and everyone else a favor, and please don't overshop in a panic. My spouse, the long-suffering soul who will be giving you your refunds, and every other refund cashier in the company, thanks you for your consideration.

Dave

I was at the grocery store yesterday and didn't see any 'panic shopping', everything seemed normal. But maybe things are different in S.E. Virginia where we "panic shop" before hurricanes
 

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Please don’t misunderstand. I absolutely agree that people should only buy what they need. But that’s not the real reason or message of this thread. The purpose of this thread is to reduce waiting time for people returning items, lowering their frustration (and undoubtedly the venting of that frustration at Costco employees), and reducing the work of Costco employees. That’s why I think this is an inappropriate thread.


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You seem to be the only one that took Dave’s post that way. Perhaps, you took it wrong?


Harry
 

presley

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I don't understand this. I saw on the news a couple days ago that some Costcos were running out of stuff. It doesn't make logical sense to me. If I am concerned that I'll be quarantined in my home, sure, I'll buy enough stuff for that time, but would I go through a pallet of toilet paper in that time? Personally, I get most of those items delivered on a regular schedule from Amazon, so I wouldn't need to stock up anyway. I feel for those who are in that major of a panic state of mind. They need to stop watching the news and focus on what they are doing right now vs. what doom that they can conjure up in their minds. Maybe it's time for everyone to pick up a new hobby so that they can do that instead of panic shopping/hoarding/returning.
 

Sandy VDH

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We had no water at our Costco over the last few days. Not a rush, but rather a consequence of one of the main 8' wide water supply lines getting accidentally ruptured.

City of Houston, and surrounding cities, nearly in its entirety, was in a boil water or buy bottled water mode for at least 3 days. Ironically, the store other than no bottled water was not that busy on this past saturday.
 

DaveNV

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Ken, I understand and respect your point about this. But I think you are thinking I’m just trying to save Costco employees from doing their regular jobs. That isn’t my intention. My spouse and others will do their level best to provide good customer service to the members.

What I’m trying to do is help the Costco members from setting up their own levels of further stress in this situation. The complaints to management about why they don’t have more of a product to sell, the acceleration of attitude that goes with extra crowds trying to buy everything they want to get, then complaints about check out lines moving too slow. Then, when those same people want to return all that over-purchased merchandise, they get angry that they have to wait in line so long, while the refund staff helps all those people in front of them in line.

I’m only asking people to think before over-buying. They need to stay safe, certainly, but there is no reason to make something worse than it already is.

Perhaps it’s my location that is making things worse. We’ve had six deaths from Covid-19 in my state, and things here are pretty tense.

Dave
 

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David, I think this is MOSTLY a regional thing. Panic seems to be setting in in Washington State. The CV-19 dead are, so far, all from there, and nobody knows how long those people and those caring for them were just going about their 'regular' lives. It makes everyone near there ask themselves if they might have crossed any of those paths or touched a doorknob or were downwind of anyone coughing. Over-reaction? Yes. Understandable? Yes. PITA for Costco employees and Buster Brown drivers and Amazon workers? Yes again.

Somehow, we'll get through this. But I think it's gonna get darker before we see light at the end of this tunnel.

Jim
 

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Ken, I understand and respect your point about this. But I think you are thinking I’m just trying to save Costco employees from doing their regular jobs. That isn’t my intention. My spouse and others will do their level best to provide good customer service to the members.

What I’m trying to do is help the Costco members from setting up their own levels of further stress in this situation. The complaints to management about why they don’t have more of a product to sell, the acceleration of attitude that goes with extra crowds trying to buy everything they want to get, then complaints about check out lines moving too slow. Then, when those same people want to return all that over-purchased merchandise, they get angry that they have to wait in line so long, while the refund staff helps all those people in front of them in line.

I’m only asking people to think before over-buying. They need to stay safe, certainly, but there is no reason to make something worse than it already is.

Perhaps it’s my location that is making things worse. We’ve had six deaths from Covid-19 in my state, and things here are pretty tense.

Dave
I would be willing to bet that Costcos in Washington aren’t the only stores experiencing the panic buying. That just happens to be the store you and your wife work at so you are giving us the information from your own experience. We appreciate that!
 
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