Chicago grocers removing limits on some items; not TP

Walgreens has removed limits on buying milk, and some Jewel stores are rolling back limits on milk, eggs and water.

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A shopper wearing a mask browses at Potash Market in River North.

A shopper wearing a mask browses at Potash Market in River North.

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Some grocery stores have begun to remove limits on certain items — but the easing of restrictions put in place to curb hoarding during the coronavirus pandemic varies from store to store.

Jewel-Osco has begun lifting purchase limits at some stores on items including milk, eggs and water “due to a strong supply,” spokeswoman Mary Frances Trucco said.

A spokeswoman for Mariano’s said limits were recently removed on bread, eggs and baby formula.

Walgreens removed the limits on milk, bacon and eggs last week, spokeswoman Megan Boyd said.

“It’s not that we’re getting more of those products, it’s that customer demand has dropped off,” Boyd said. “There seems to be less panic buying, and the demand for them is not as high as other products.”

Many stores, including Walgreens, are still limiting the purchase of paper products, such as toilet paper.

“There’s no rule of thumb on how stores are dealing with limiting the purchase of certain things,” supermarket analyst Phil Lempert said Wednesday.

“The good news is that the supply chain is filling up a bit. It’s still not 100%, but to put it in perspective, think about Christmas and Thanksgiving, stores have three to four months to gear up and prepare for those occasions. In this case, they had no warning ... it’s almost like the wild west right now,” Lempert said.

Panic buying seems to stubbornly persist, according to Lempert, who referenced weekly figures released by Nielsen, a company that tracks grocery sales.

“The sale of spiral hams is up 424%, baking yeast is up 302% and oat milk is up 296% as people move to nondairy alternatives,” he said.

Limits on everything but paper products have been removed at the two Potash Market stores in River North.

“We have less customers coming, they’re still buying more because they don’t want to have to come back anytime soon, but people seem to be back filling the items they’re low on instead of putting everything in their cart,” owner Art Potash said. “It seems like the panic part is coming to an end, at least here.”

Target continues to limit sales of many products like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and food items.

“We’re continuing to make adjustments to limits as needed, and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly so more families can find the products they need,” the company’s website states.

Things are slowly improving for grocers, said Brian Jordan, president of the Illinois Food Retailers Association, which represents 250 independent grocers operating more than 1,000 stores around the state, including about 300 stores in the Chicago area.

“I think it’s getting better, but it’s still a fairly widespread challenge overall,” he said.

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