Kroger limiting the amount of sanitary products customers can buy

Kroger Co. says it put a rule in place on March 2 that limits the amount of sanitary products and cold and flu items that customers can buy per order. The grocery retailer said the rule is an effort to make sure more shoppers can get the merchandise they need as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds.

Calling the move a “precautionary step,” Kroger’s KR, +1.03% Chief Executive Rodney McMullen issued a coronavirus message on Thursday that includes the steps the grocery retailer is taking in its stores in response to the pandemic.

Demand for items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and cleansers have soared to sometimes frenzied levels.

Among the other steps Kroger has taken are more frequent cleanings of cashier stations, self-checkout kiosks and other parts of the store, wiping down carts, baskets and equipment, and providing customers with free disinfectant wipes.

Read: Walmart may cut store hours to combat coronavirus and says a Kentucky associate has tested positive

Kroger is also asking associates to stay home if they or someone in their homes are sick, and providing financial support for associates who are affected through a company-sponsored employee assistance fund called Helping Hand.

Kroger said during its earnings call last week that it has activated a pandemic preparedness plan for customers, associates and the company’s supply chain.

Kroger is guiding for 2020 earnings per share of $2.30 to $2.40 and same-store sales growth of 2.25%. The FactSet consensus is for EPS of $2.33 and same-store sales growth of 2.1%. The guidance doesn’t take coronavirus into account, Kroger said.

Walmart Inc. WMT, +4.51% , Ulta Beauty Inc. ULTA, +8.20% , and many other companies have announced precautions and employee activations that they have put in place to manage through the coronavirus.

Starbucks Corp. SBUX, +4.69% has already said that some areas of its stores are being cleaned as frequently as every eight minutes.

The coffee giant issued an update as well on Thursday, saying that some stores may limit seating in order to improve “social distancing,” may put mobile-order-only capabilities in place, and may shut stores if necessary.

See: Trump and Democrats both say workers affected by coronavirus pandemic should get paid sick leave

For staff, the company is expanding catastrophe pay for workers who test positive for coronavirus. If, after those 14 days, additional pay of up to 26 weeks may be available. In addition to taking advantage of these benefits, Starbucks recommends the CUP Fund, which was started by workers to help other workers with financial hardship.

Kroger stock has gained 17.8% over the past year. Starbucks shares have fallen 11.4%. And the S&P 500 index SPX, +5.04% is down 11.8% for the period.