We're all scrambling to stock up on masks, gloves, disinfectant, toilet paper, paper towels and other pandemic essentials. Gone are the days when you could do a one-stop-shop and get everything you need, at least for now. And if you're avoiding stores to stay safe, that adds another level of difficulty to an already-challenging shopping situation.
Major retailer websites, including Target.com and Walmart.com, are sold out of many items. Even when they restock, essentials can come and go in a flash. Although it appears to be getting easier to find many items on Amazon.com, it can take weeks to get your order. For example, I found disinfecting wipes that don't arrive until mid-June.
According to a new survey by CommerceHub, 75 percent of respondents overall said they had searched for an item online and found that it was out of stock. Among Amazon Prime members, 80 percent said that items they were looking to purchase online have been out of stock and that expected or promised delivery dates have impacted their purchase decisions for essentials.
The good news is coronavirus supplies are hiding everywhere. It's like Whac-A-Mole shopping out there, with products constantly popping up and then disappearing and reappearing somewhere else — sometimes in surprising places. Clothing chains, for example, are selling masks online and beauty-supply sites are hawking hand sanitizers. The bottom line: You can probably find everything you need but you'll need to shop around, and act fast.
Here are some websites that you might not think to check, plus a few tips on getting the most for your money while avoiding rip-offs.
Toilet paper and paper towels
I haven't been able to buy TP at my supermarket for weeks, but I've purchased it at Home Depot and Walgreens. Unfortunately, the websites of these retailers and others, including Costco and Walmart, only offer essential paper supplies for in-store purchases in many cases. My advice: If you're avoiding stores, ask a neighbor to pick up these items while they're out shopping around, or check out Boxed, an online warehouse store. Boxed has great deals on bulk paper products and lots of lots of other supplies. I've also seen bulk orders available from Staples.