Hopefully, the policy will ensure everyone gets their fair share.

By Tim Nelson
March 20, 2020
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With an ever-increasing number of Americans told to stay home, March has been a big month for panic-buyers and doomsday preppers. That’s led to scenes of empty shelves, special shopping hours dedicated to the elderly and immunocompromised, and rampant jokes about toilet paper.

While many hoarders have justified their decisions by swearing that they’ll eventually use everything they buy, Costco has instituted an interesting but perhaps necessary policy in an effort to make sure everyone can get their hands on the most coveted items. Recently, multiple Costco-focused Instagram accounts have spotted signs indicating that the wholesaler will not accept returns for frequently-hoarded items like toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizing wipes, water, rice, or Lysol.

With so many of those products flying off the shelves, it feels like it could incentivize more responsible behavior and ethical consumption. And based on the comments for these posts, it seems like Costco shoppers coping with an unprecedented situation tend to like the idea.

“Absolutely agree! The hoarding of these items was way out of control,” reads one of the top comments on @CostcoBuys’ post. “This will prevent people from buying large amounts,” reads another. “[Hoarders] will be stuck with [these items] after this is all over. Good on Costco!”

At a time when retailers of food and other essentials are facing an unprecedented surge in demand, Costco isn’t the only chain to take steps to curb hoarding. According to CNBC, major grocery locations like Kroger, H-E-B, and Walmart have put in place policies that limit (or allow individual stores to limit) the purchases of essential items.

Given that there’s reason to believe that supply chains and production capacity is (as of now) still strong enough to meet demand over time, there’s really no good reason to take more than you need right now. Taking more than you need just makes it harder for the next shopper to find what they need to get by. If there was ever a time to show some consideration for your fellow humans, it’s pretty much right now.