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Costco Just Made This Move to Address Current Grocery Shortages

Here's what the company is doing to prevent not only shortages but also price hikes.

Though Costco stores are bigger than regular supermarkets, they carry considerably fewer products. Members can shop from nearly 3,000 items inside Costco's warehouses, whereas there are about 40,000 products inside other beloved grocery stores like Walmart or Kroger.

Grocery store shortages remain comparable to 2020, but Costco CFO Richard Galanti recently revealed that the warehouse is taking action. Costco is bringing back product limits on certain household staples like bottled water, paper towels, and toilet paper. Meanwhile, the warehouse has chartered three ocean vessels to transport thousands of items from overseas.

Related: Costco May Never Bring This Beloved Food Court Item Back

"We've also chartered three ocean vessels for the next year to transport containers between Asia and the U.S. and Canada, and we've leased several thousand containers for use on these ships," Galanti said during the Q4 earnings call that took place on Sept. 23. "Every ship can carry 800 to 1,000 containers at a time, and we'll make approximately 10 deliveries during the course of the next year."

The warehouse chain is currently experiencing shipping delays of eight to 12 weeks—and even up to 16 and 18 weeks in some cases—Galanti added.

Shipping vessel

The ship rentals—combined with efforts to order as much as it can get of items like holiday toys and appliances and getting them in earlier—are helping Costco avoid not only empty shelves but also raising prices amid a variety of "inflationary pressures." Galanti specifically cited "higher labor costs, higher freight costs, higher transportation demand, along with container shortages and port delays, increased demand in certain product categories, various shortages of everything from computer chips to oils and chemicals, [and] higher commodities prices."

The news about the ocean vessels came after Costco recently alerted members who bought toilet paper online of order processing delays. Members who purchased toilet paper on the retailer's website reportedly received emails saying "you may see a slight delay in the processing of this order" as a result of "increased volumes."

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda