FARGO — Panic buying spurred by fears of the coronavirus pandemic has cleared shelves of items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes at retailers across the United States.

In response to high demand, national and regional retailers have imposed purchase limits on certain products — though across the Red River Valley restrictions vary from store to store.

Retailers are also taking measures to limit the spread of infection at stores.

Hornbacher’s and Cash Wise

St. Cloud, Minn., based Coborn's, the parent company of Hornbacher’s and Cash Wise, on Friday, March 13, announced plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19 following a report of a case in Stearns County Thursday.

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In a statement announcing changes to customers, company president Chris Coborn said stores have started to apply purchase limits to ensure all customers can get access to essential supplies.

Coborn's-owned stores in the Fargo-Moorhead area reported different purchase limits Friday night. Cash Wise in Fargo said it had a one-per-customer limit on packages of toilet paper, while the Moorhead location reported a two-pack limit. The limits are subject to change over the coming days, the Moorhead store reported.

The Moorhead and 32nd Avenue Hornbacher's did not report any purchase limits Friday night, but as with most stores across the region, items like toilet paper and disinfecting wipes were in tight supply. The Moorhead Azool Hornbacher's limited toilet paper purchases to two items.

The chain has also taken measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus at its stores. Self-serve food areas like hot food bars, salad bars and dougnut cases won’t be available in areas where coronavirus has been confirmed.

Coborn's also said that home delivery service for grocery and drugs will no longer enter homes and will instead make deliveries at the door.

Target

Target intends to keep its more than 1,800 stores open during the coronavirus outbreak, but the retailer has announced it is taking steps to prevent the spread of infection to customers and employees. Target has also introduced buy limits for items at all of its stores.

Multiple stores across North Dakota and Minnesota reported the following restrictions on items on Friday:

One per guest:

  • Toilet paper

  • Flushable wipes

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Hand and face wipes

  • Disinfectant wipes

Two per guest:

  • 24-packs of bottled water

Stores reported that the one-per-guest restrictions on items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer apply to any size, whether its a six-pack of toilet paper or an 18-pack.

To fight the spread of infection, the retailer is expanding payroll hours for employees to support a ramped-up cleaning routine that includes wiping down check lanes and touchscreens every 30 minutes. Stores have also suspended food sampling.

Walmart

Walmart announced on Tuesday that it would leave buying restrictions up to the discretion of its managers, and as of Friday evening, no stores in Fargo or Grand Forks had placed limits on the purchase of items like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes.

While many stores have not yet placed limits on items, stores report that items like toilet paper are often depleted less than an hour after pallets are placed on store floors.

Walmart also said in a news release that it is ramping up its store cleaning routines. Employees are being asked to focus more on cleaning and stores are designating a store employee to focus on cleaning key areas.

Family Fare

Just one Family Fare store in Fargo reported purchase limits Friday night. The North University Drive location reported a two-package-per customer limit on toilet paper purchases.

The 25th Street South and 13th Avenue East location in West Fargo reported no limits on purchases Friday.

Costco

The West Fargo Costco location reported Friday night that it was sold out of items including toilet paper, hand sanitizer and rice. Before those items were depleted from its shelves, the store had a two-per-customer limit on those items.

Costco is also imposing a two-per-customer limit on items like flour, sugar and soap, the store reported.

Dollar stores

Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar General locations in Fargo-Moorhead did not report any formal restrictions on goods, but all reported being cleared of items like toilet paper.

Hugo’s

Hugo’s stores in Grand Forks and Crookston reported different buy limit policies on toilet paper Friday night.

  • The Columbia Road and 32nd Avenue locations reported a two-per-person limit per visit on toilet paper.

  • The 13th Avenue and Crookston stores did not report any limits on purchases.

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