During an earnings call with analysts on Tuesday, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said some stores have had trouble keeping toilet paper and cleaning supplies in stock.
“It really depends on what's going on in the state and the city that we're in,” Furner said, according to a transcript of the call. “The specific categories where we had the most strain at the present time would be bath tissue and cleaning supplies, and our inventory position on hand sanitizer and masks is very good.”
He added that some stores have struggled to maintain inventory for other items as well.
“We still see some stress in things like deli, bacon, and breakfast foods, but in general there is product available, just assortments of it smaller than it was,” Furner said.
Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon told analysts that the locations with the shortages correspond to areas with higher coronavirus cases.
“I think the way to think of this is locally it really does have everything to do with what's happening with COVID cases in any particular community,” McMillon said. “I was in stores last week and I saw variance from one state to the other, one location to the other, just depends on how people are feeling in that moment.”
McMillon said it was “disappointing” that some items have been out of stock, but added that Walmart is better equipped than it was in the spring.
“It feels to me that we'll work through this period of time better than we did in the first wave,” he said.
Walmart reported its third-quarter earnings on Tuesday.
Many companies struggled with inventory shortages in the spring, as the first wave of the coronavirus led to mandated lockdowns and restrictions. About 64% of shoppers made a stockpile of products in March, according to research from Inmar Intelligence.
The company found that leading up to the election and in the face of the second wave of the coronavirus, another 57% of shoppers were considering stockpiling goods again.