Shoppers are speaking out against the decision to bar the sale of nonessential items at big box retailers to limit foot traffic in stores amid the coronavirus pandemic. After several states issued new orders retailers such as Target, Costco, and Walmart to cease the in-person sale of items that are deemed nonessential, many costumers expressed their upset on social media, some sharing concerns that some items deemed nonessential are actually essential.
While many of these retailers have been allowed to remain open because they sell groceries or offer pharmacy services, they have since been ordered to stop selling other items. Those items include, but are not limited to, arts and crafts, beauty, carpet and flooring, clothing, consumer electronics, entertainment (books, music, movies), furniture, home and garden, jewelry, paint, photo services, sports equipment, toys, and others.
For some shoppers, the move crosses a line. As customers went to their local Targets, Walmarts, and Costcos to pick up both essential and nonessential items, many took to social media to slam the new rules. Keep scrolling to see how social media is reacting.
"[Walmart] [Walmart Help] even at pandemic CLOTHES are ESSENTIAL so don’t be trying to say they are not and barring people from buying them kids are now home they will need things, families will probably need to get games & puzzles to plan for no law spring summer school Vacation," tweeted one person. "Also please don’t say order online [laughing out loud] your online pick up is a crazy joke right now and shipping is taking a very long time .."
Several people seemed to agree, with one person pointing out that the new rules may only be creating more problems, as "people are going to more than one store looking for those car seats for growing kids shoes and other things a family needs..."
"Some Walmart, Costco, Target stores barred from selling nonessential items What a bunch of crap," tweeted one person. "I have to work at home and i need my printer and computer. DAAAHHH!! I need ink and paper. Let ban government from working they are non essential to the public."
"Totally agree..lightbulbs, car stuff..US NURSES NEED STUPID stuff like GARBAGE BAGS,SOCKS,FLIP FLOPS..cuz we THROW stuff away after immediately working in HELL!" responded somebody else. "WHAT'S ESSENTIAL to 1 person is NOT to another! GOT KIDS? HOME24/7? POOL NOODLES & CRAYONS have saved my life."
While some responded to the tweet by suggesting that the shopper try curbside pickup or ordering their nonessential items online, several others replied by stating that they have encountered long delays in shipping and receiving emails that their orders are ready for pickup.
"Now Walmart and Target are saying that they may close off non essential parts of their stores... Clothing, Electronics, etc.. [for f—'s sake]..." tweeted another person. Their tweet, shared on April 3, gained support in the form of hundreds of retweets, thousands of likes, and nearly 500 replies.
Responding, one person commented that, "some people still need to buy work clothes, hopefully underwear, maybe a laptop to do school work from home. What the hell is really going on??" Another person expressed what several others have as well, stating that "what might not be essential for some people could be very essential for others."
"What is essential to someone?" asked another. "My needs are different than another home....What if my computer or phone breaks? What if I want a book to read while stuck inside? Change of season..kids grow as do adults.....I could go on and on...It basically isn't anyones business what I buy!!"
Maybe I'm late to hearing the news about non essential commerce but why in the holy fuck are people ok with being told what they can and can't buy? If I want to go to walmart and buy a flat of silly string to keep myself entertained, that's essential... to me...and my sanity.— Oh.musical.me (@MusicalOh) April 14, 2020
Among the first states to ban the sale of nonessential items was Vermont. On March 31, Vermont's Agency of Commerce and Community Development ordered "large 'big box' retailers," including Walmart, Target, and Costco, to cease in-person sales of non-essential items.
"Large 'big box' retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location," Lindsay Kurrle, Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary, said in a press release. "This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont's health care system. We are directing these stores to put public health first and help us reduce the number of shoppers by requiring on-line ordering, delivery and curbside pickup whenever possible, and by stopping the sale of non-essential items."
A bunch of stupid politicians in my district have decided what is essential to buy and non essential at Target and Walmart.
Make-up is deemed essential but kids toys and electronics are not essential and roped off.
This has gone way too far with these restrictions!— Dawn Michael, PhD💗 (@SexCounseling) April 7, 2020
The Board of Commissioners in Howard County, Indiana also prohibited big box retailers in the area from selling non-essential items in March. The move followed a wave of complaints, including some from non-essential businesses regarding essential businesses that were still selling non-essential goods. Retail workers also complained that customers were unnecessarily leaving home to browse stores because they were "bored at home," putting employees' health at risk.
Yea apparently even @Walmart feels like having a power trip and restrict your shopping freedoms. That’s cool. Trust me I can enjoy staying away from a Walmart.
Walmart clarifies policy on selling nonessential items after facing backlash -Business Insider https://t.co/8qPEwBXdBG— Deplorable Dave ⭐⭐⭐ (@RealJohhnieDoe) April 14, 2020
On April 9, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that large stores were barred from selling "nonessential" such as furniture, plants, and more. In her address, Whitmer said, "if you're not buying food or medicine or other essential items, you should not be going to the store." The move has sparked plenty of backlash, with one Facebook user recounting in a viral post how she was prevented from buying a baby car seat.
Responding to the incident, Business Insider reported that a Walmart representative confirmed "Michigan customers are able to purchase baby car seats, baby furniture and other infant products at their local Walmart." The representative added that they were "reiterating this direction with store management to ensure consistent service to our customers across our Michigan stores."
Why ban non essential items when a person is already in that store. They are killing the businesses and the economy. If the store is closed completely that’s different but to say I can’t buy something when I’m in the store is bull💩. It’s time to fight back.— NoWorries (@starryeyedprize) April 13, 2020
Business Insider has reported that other locations across the country, including Summit County, Colorado, and Springfield, Missouri, have also ordered that retailers stop the sale of non-essential items.