As demand for at-home COVID-19 tests surge ahead of the holidays and as the omicron variant spreads throughout the U.S., major retailers including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart announced that they are limiting purchases of these tests.
Walgreens, which is setting the purchase limit at four tests, posted a statement that read, "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. We remain committed to offering convenient access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing services and products that are critical to helping protect our communities."
Walgreens noted it has 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. Due to the incredible demand for at-home rapid testing, we put into effect a four-item purchase limit on at-home COVID-19 testing products in our stores and digital properties in an effort to help improve inventory while we continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands. Some stores may experience a temporary shortage in rapid OTC testing solutions. For consumers looking for specific items, Walgreens.com updates with the latest available store inventory information frequently throughout the day."
“We remain committed to meeting the needs of our customers and patients and are doing all we can to support our communities during this critical time,” said John Standley, Walgreens president. “With heightened demand for COVID vaccines, testing and other services, in addition to the busy holiday season, our pharmacy and store team members are working incredibly hard every day. We ask that our customers please show patience and understanding as together, we continue to navigate the evolving pandemic environment.”
CVS Health announced on Wednesday that it is limiting at-home COVID-19 tests to six per customer both in store and digitally.
On Tuesday, CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis said at-home tests may be temporarily out of stock online due to the surge in demand. "In the event a local store experiences a temporary shortage, our teams have a process in place to replenish supply,” DeAngelis told CNBC.
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Walmart said on Tuesday that demand for at-home COVID-19 testing kits was "extremely high" and that it had set a limit of eight test kits per online order.
The Biden administration announced a plan on Tuesday to distribute 500 million at-home COVID tests that Americans can order for free through a website the government is setting up. However, delivery of the free tests won’t start until January, after the holiday travel season is largely over.
Abbott Laboratories, maker of the popular at-home COVID-19 test BinaxNOW, is shipping its test as quickly as the company can produce them, spokesperson John Koval told CNBC.