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Latest victim of coronavirus concerns: Costco free food samples

A staple of the Costco shopping experience — free food samples — has been temporarily suspended by the retailer because of the spread of the coronavirus, an employee said Friday.

Costco declined to comment but a local store associate in Las Vegas confirmed the retail chain will not be handing out food samples for the time being. She asked that the Review-Journal not use her name because she was not authorized to speak to the media.

Costco operates about 782 warehouses worldwide and 543 in the United States, including four in Clark County.

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The company reported their second quarter earnings Thursday and Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti told analysts sales were strong last month “related to concerns around the coronavirus.”

“Like everyone, we are keeping a close eye on the developments around the coronavirus including the impact on operations,” Galanti said.

The company has implemented procedures replicated by many retailers, such as increasing sanitizing efforts and leaving sanitizing wipes for customers to use throughout the store.

Galanti acknowledged it has been slightly challenging meeting customer demand of popular items like water and cleaning supplies, adding that coronavirus fears have had an impact on the company’s supply chain.

“We’re doing our best to stay in stock on these and other items,” he said. “We’re getting deliveries daily but still not enough given the increased levels of demand on certain key items. It’s been a little crazy this past week in terms of outside shopping frequency and sales levels, and not only in the United States. In terms of placing quantity limits on what a member can purchase, we are doing that in some instances. It tends to be at all locations but may differ regionally based on supply levels.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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