More than 240 million shoppers visit Walmart each week—and they’re quick to make their opinions known. Over the summer, the retailer was knocked for its produce, and right before the holiday season, Walmart faced a flurry of outrage from customers when it was revealed that the company would be replacing its traditional layaway program with a credit-based “buy now, pay later” program. Now, the superstore has announced another new change ahead of the holidays that might affect your planned purchases. Read on to find out what Walmart is now prohibiting.
Walmart customers will no longer be able to buy as many rapid, at-home COVID tests as they want. The retailer has just set a purchasing limit of eight tests for each online order as of Dec. 21, according to Reuters. For those who shop in person, Walmart said it is allowing its physical stores to set their own limits depending on their inventory levels.
“We do have strong inventory levels nationally in store,” Walmart told the news outlet in a statement. “However, inventory is more limited online depending on the zip code.”
Walmart is just one of the many retailers that have now limited the number of tests shoppers can buy. Walgreens was the first to do so by imposing a limit of four at-home tests per shopper both in stores and online on Dec. 21, according to CNBC. At the time, CVS did not say it would be implementing its own purchasing cap, but later that day, this pharmacy chain said it would be adding a limit of six test kits per purchase both in store and digitally, CNN reported.
Amazon has also now set a cap on its website. According to CNN, the online marketplace is limiting purchases of its own at-home COVID test collection kits to 10. But Amazon’s third party sellers on the site are able to set their own quantity limits. “We are working hard to secure additional COVID-19 test inventory” from sellers, a spokesperson for the company told CNN.
On Dec. 21, Walmart said that demand for its at-home COVID testing kits was “extremely high,” according to Reuters. And the other retailers imposing purchasing limits are reporting the same thing.
“As the nation experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases coinciding with the holidays, we are seeing unprecedented demand for related testing and vaccine services and products,” Walgreens said in a statement posted to its website Dec. 21. “We’ve also seen an increase in demand for rapid OTC COVID-19 tests and are working with our suppliers to ensure customers have access to self-test kits through the holidays.”
Walgreens and CVS also warned in their statements that some of their stores could experience a temporary shortage in rapid tests because of this, per CNN. And an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that the company is experiencing inventory shortages of COVID tests due to the increased demand.
President Joe Biden announced on Dec. 21 that his administration will be distributing rapid, at-home COVID tests to people in the U.S. The federal government is planning to purchase an additional 500 million tests to mail to individuals for free, Biden said, but deliveries won’t begin until sometime in January, after the holidays.
“One of the other things that we know that has to be done is more testing. Because Omicron spreads easily, especially among the unvaccinated, it’s critically important that we know who’s infected. That means we need more testing,” Biden said. “The bottom line is it’s a lot better than it was, but we’re taking even more steps to make it easier to get tested and get tested for free.”