Some of the biggest stores across the United States are reportedly seeing a shortage of feminine hygiene products, while the cost of the essential items is rising as supply chain issues and sky-high inflation continues to plague the economy.
According to multiple posts on social media, consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to purchase tampons across U.S. stores including Walgreens, CVS, and Target.
“I just went to 5 different Walgreens [and] the shelves are cleared,” said one Twitter user this past week, while another wrote: “I had to go to three different stores to find the brand of tampons I like to use just to end up having to try another brand.”
Meanwhile, Reddit users posted about finding empty shelves while searching for tampons as far back as April, with one user stating that they checked eight different stores for their preferred brand but were unable to and so ordered the products “from Amazon at a noticeable markup.”
The issue has also garnered attention from Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) who took to Twitter on Monday and accused companies of price gouging.
“We’ve seen the reports: Tampons are becoming more expensive and scarcer on store shelves, and companies are profiting at record levels off a basic necessity. That’s absurd,” Hassan wrote. “Today, I am calling on CEOs of the four major tampon producers to increase supply–not prices.”
The current shortage is being credited to ongoing supply chain issues prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased demand, with consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble telling TIME that demand is up 7.7 percent since 2020. The company also noted that it is running its Auburn, Maine Tampax factory 24/7 to meet that increased demand.
Walgreens told ABC News in a statement it is experiencing “some temporary brand-specific shortages in certain geographies” but is working “diligently” with its suppliers to ensure tampons are available to consumers.
“While we will continue to have products at shelf and online, it may only be in specific brands while we navigate the supply disruption,” the company said. “And, for customers looking for a specific product or brand, our website is up-to-date with the latest available store-level inventory information.”
CVS also confirmed a shortage in a statement to ABC News and said it too was working with suppliers to ensure an “ample supply” of feminine care products are available in its stores.
“In recent weeks, there have been instances when suppliers haven’t been able to fulfill the full quantities of orders placed,” the company said. “If a local store is temporarily out of specific products, we work to replenish those items as quickly as possible.”
A spokesperson for Target confirmed to NPR that it was aware of a limited tampon supply at some stores.
Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble, which makes Tampax tampons and Always pads, told ABC News it is “producing tampons 24/7” in an effort to meet demand and insisted that the situation is temporary.
“We understand it is frustrating for consumers when they can’t find what they need,” the company said. “We can assure you this is a temporary situation, and the Tampax team is producing tampons 24/7 to meet the increased demand for our products. We are working with our retail partners to maximize availability, which has significantly increased over the last several months.”
P&G said in its April earnings call that ongoing supply chain constraints would lead to a fresh round of price hikes for its U.S. feminine, home, and oral care this July.
The average price of tampons has jumped nearly 10 percent in the past year, while prices for a packet of menstrual pads rose 8.3 percent, according to data cited by Bloomberg.
I Support the Girls, a group that provides menstrual products and other essential items to women in need, has reported a 60 percent drop in donations this year compared to 2020.
On Monday Nicole Morales, Republican National Committee deputy national press secretary, took aim at the Biden administration for the current situation, writing on Twitter: “If women can even find feminine hygiene products they will need to pay nearly 10% more to keep up with Bidenflation.”