As governments race against time to keep people safe and find a way to contain the novel coronavirus, some have begun to panic, leading to them hysterically stockpiling on some unusual items. Among other things, it is the toilet paper that is swiftly going off the market in many countries. First it was the masks, then hand sanitizers, and now, toilet rolls are seeing a sudden surge in sales. So much so that while retail outlets in countries like US and Canada have put a cap on the number of packs that a customer can buy in one trip, grocery stores in Australia have hired guards to prevent people from people from buying too many toilet rolls. As per news reports, some supermarkets in the UK have already run out of toilet paper. Now, to help people, an Australian newspaper has even printed additional pages in its recent edition, so they can use it as ’emergency paper’.
It should be noted that a toilet paper is not a staple food item that people would otherwise stock in cases of emergencies. So, the fact that countries are running out of it seems bizarre. One of the primary reasons could be fear. Since there is no vaccine available right now, and a lot about the virus still remains a mystery, people may be resorting to emergency stockpiling. People are being instructed to wash their hands properly and stay hygienically in the right at all times. This could be causing families to go an extra mile to keep the toilet paper handy, should they need it in bulk.
The other classic reason could be that panic begets panic. So while people see images of empty shelves in grocery stores, they may get the impression that there indeed is some reason to panic. So, they may end up panic-buying, too. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the current coronavirus situation as a pandemic. This may be causing people to over-prepare for any kind of unforeseen situation. Also stockpiling may be giving them a strange sense of control.
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