The coronavirus pandemic has taught people a lot of things, especially when it comes to personal hygiene. For example; we now wash our hands thoroughly for 20 seconds by singing Happy Birthday twice or singing the ABC song. How by just thinking about not touching our face can bring upon a sudden itch. People now know how valuable toilet paper is. With coronavirus causing quarantine and state shutdowns across the country, people began to behave differently. There seemed to be one thing in common, though, and that was panic buying of toilet paper.
Panic buying just causes more panic buying. People started posting photos of empty shelves on social media, and it sent panic throughout the country. Buyers started thinking that their local retailers would eventually run out of toilet paper as well, causing them to rush out to but what they could. This thought caused the panic buying of toilet paper to spread. Even people who knew this type of behavior was irrational were hit with the fear of missing out and began to stock up. Psychologically, fear of running out toilet paper seems to be in the back of everyone’s minds.
Panic buying has continuously evolved during the pandemic. It started with gloves and masks, to disinfecting products, paper goods, and then food and alcohol. It’s strange to imagine that the surge of toilet paper happened before food. The U.S wasn’t alone, as the same thing happened in Italy, France, and other countries where the coronavirus outbreak occurred. Panic buying is not just a U.S thing; it’s a human thing to do. Consumers are asking stores when the next delivery truck will arrive and show up early that day, anxiously waiting for the new goods.
In an emergency, anything will do, meaning there is no debate over one-ply or two, owner or national brand, or soft or strong. With limited options, customers have to change their habits and try new things. These limited options can be a good thing, as this created a unique opportunity for owned brands of toilet paper to gain traction. Some stores saw a triple or quadruple increase in the purchase of toilet paper. There should be enough toilet paper for everyone, but not if people buy five to seven times their family’s actual need.
The coronavirus pandemic has taught people several things, one of which is how important toilet paper can be. The quarantine and shutdowns have caused everyone to act differently, but one thing everyone seemed to have in common is panic buying toilet paper. Panic buying toilet paper just caused shortages of a supply that shouldn’t be in deficit. Still, unnatural times cause people to behave irrationally—seeing posted photos of empty shelves caused widespread fear of local stores running out of toilet paper. It is essential that we think about our actual usage and buys toilet paper accordingly.