Strange Behaviour

Panic buying

This is what the toilet paper shelves at our local Woolworths supermarket looked like.

Too bad if you want toilet paper.

Why do people think that they need so much toilet paper ?

ABC Tissue and Kimberly Clarke have done a whole lot of market research, as all companies do, to find out how much they need to produce to satisfy the market. What they have both found is that the average family of four uses about eight to ten triple length rolls every two weeks.  That’s around thirty single length rolls a fortnight or about fifteen per week. A 48 pack of single length rolls is about three weeks supply.

So the question still stands. Why do people think that they need so much toilet paper ?

Toilet paper is only the tip of the iceberg. People seem to be determined to denude all the supermarket shelves although in our local supermarket the fresh fruit and veg seem to be immune to panic buying. Meat shelves have been denuded and I can only surmise that there are a whole lot of big freezers out there and in a couple of months or so a lot of people are going to find out just how much electricity it takes to run a big freezer.

Hand sanitiser is another item that it is quite senseless to stock up on. Leading specialists, many of them, have said that plain old soap and water is probably more effective than the expensive sanitisers that people want to stock up with.

Food. The Minister for Agriculture has said that we are a nation of twenty five million or so people and we produce enough food to feed about seventy five million people and therefore there is plenty to go around. Why panic buy ?

I think I understand the reason. We are facing uncertain times and, in general, people want to be prepared so the knee jerk reaction is to stock up. Generally people probably don’t understand why they feel the need to buy in bulk – it just seems like a smart thing to do in uncertain times. Maybe they are worrying about needing to be isolated or if the rules change such that they aren’t allowed to go shopping.

So what happens when the collective thinking gets around to realising that there was no need to buy all this excess ? They’ll find that they have enough “stuff” to last years so what are they going to do with it. EBay, not go shopping, what ?

These are just a few examples of senseless panic buying that effectively illustrate what Agent K said in Men In Black. “A person is smart. People are dumb.”

In a few years I think that we’ll all look back and ask ourselves why were we so stupid ? In the meantime let’s just shop normally and buy our usual quantities of everything. That will go a long way towards ensuring that there is enough of everything to go around.

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