Americans swarm Costco to stock up in panic over coronavirus

The sudden surge of panic-induced shoppers is predicted by some to cause a rise in Costo shares.

A man loads water into his car in the Costco parking lot, after the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced in New York State, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 2, 2020. (photo credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)
A man loads water into his car in the Costco parking lot, after the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced in New York State, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 2, 2020.
(photo credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)
American shoppers flock to branches of the major department store Costco across the country in order stock up on supplies in fear of a coronavirus outbreak, CNBC reported.
The various necessities being sought include hand sanitizer, paper towels, trail mix, water and surgical masks, all of which are being bought in bulk.
Citing Nielsen, CNBC reported that hand sanitizer sales are up 73% since February 22, while surgical masks sales are up 319%.
However, Nielsen added that it does not expect hand sanitizer sales to peak any time soon.
The sudden surge of panic-induced shoppers is predicted by some to cause a rise in Costco shares.
“We expect material comp benefits for Costco,” analyst Rupesh Parikh told clients, according to CNBC.
“Our observations and conversations with store employees [and] management suggest a strong pickup in traffic starting Thursday through at least Saturday.”
On Monday, Costco shares rose 4%.
However, the sudden surge of customers stocking up on supplies could also result in less demand in the future, as well as a depletion of stocks.
Already, local reports in Oregon confirmed that a Costco in the state ran out of toilet paper.
However, according to Parikh, Costco has historically handled out-of-stocks well. This could be a good thing for the company, as consumers will remember to shop there when in a panic like this.
The coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, China, and has since spread throughout the world, infecting over 91,000 people worldwide. At the time of writing, the US has confirmed 105 cases, including six deaths.


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