Coronavirus toilet paper shortage has U.S. retailers limiting purchases

Kroger and Amazon warn of limits to certain products as Target and Walmart scramble to refill shelves

Australians worried by the global coronavirus outbreak have bought so much toilet paper companies are limiting their purchases, and in the U.S. retailers are preparing for a similar reaction.

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Australia's largest grocery chain, Woolworths, and Costco have capped customers' toilet paper purchases after a run on the product in the country, Reuters reported.

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Kroger Co., the biggest independent grocer in the U.S., is placing limits on the number of certain products that customers buy as its shelves are cleared by people stocking up in preparation for any spread of the virus.

“Due to high demand and to support all customers, we will be limiting the number of sanitization, cold and flu related products to 5 each per order. Your order may be modified at time of pickup or delivery,” the company said on its website.

A man looks for toilet paper in an Australian supermarket after panic buying due to the Corona virus. (Chris Putnam/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Amazon is warning same-day grocery customers that delivery may be limited. Target and Walmart are scrambling to replenish shelves with basics like canned goods, toilet paper and other household essentials but have yet to announce rationing.

After the first U.S. coronavirus death was reported last week, virus-worried shoppers emptied grocery store shelves of goods like water and disinfectant wipes in California and Oregon. An employee at a Safeway in Mountain View, California, told FOX Business that Saturday was "crazy busy" as shoppers stocked up on toilet paper and pasta.

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Australia and Hong Kong have made headlines in recent weeks for toilet paper stockpiling. The NT News, an Australian newspaper known for its sense of humor, cheekily printed an 8-page insert to be used as emergency toilet paper this week.

In Hong Kong, men armed with knives robbed a delivery man and reportedly got away with 600 rolls of toilet paper in mid-February, according to BBC.

Both Hong Kong and Australia have seen deaths from the coronavirus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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