Coronavirus is taking the world by storm but despite health experts’ best efforts against panic buying, over in Australia, the general public are taking matters into their own hands, by stockpiling toilet paper and health products such as hand sanitizer and soap, thermometers, and masks.
In most stores across the country, a familiar sight is now visible; An entire empty aisle in the store that was once home to hundreds of toilet rolls.
After speaking with staff at a central Sydney supermarket, they reported that Police were called to a dispute on Wednesday when someone pulled a knife during an argument over the last roll of toilet paper between two shoppers.
But why are Australian’s hoarding their toilet paper and other health products amidst the coronavirus debacle that’s caused #toiletpaper to trend worldwide on Twitter, with other tags such as #ToiletPaperApocalyse trending on the Australian arm of Facebook?
The frenzy buying began after the first new cases of Covid-19 emerged in Australia last week when a 78-year old man in Perth died from the virus.
Local media sites started recommending individuals stocked up on enough food and drink for 14 days, as well as enough health and sanitization products they might need.
Without mentioned toilet paper, panicked shoppers made for the supermarket to stock up on essentials as well as mountains of loo roll. Before long, the social norm was to fill your trolley as high as possible with the cheapest rolls.
Amidst the panic buying, the authorities have urged against panic buying however the problem now is that those who didn’t initially buy into the hype have discovered there’s no toilet paper available to purchase for themselves. This has led to many others grabbing what they can and stocking up.
The two major supermarkets in Australia, Coles, and Woolworths have said there is no shortage of toilet paper or other health products, but after visiting three central Sydney stores today we were unable to find any paper, kitchen towels, hand sanitizer or hand soap.
Kleenex, the nation’s largest toilet paper supplier has announced that they have plenty of stock and are working 24/7 to speed up production and distribution to ensure Australian’s don’t run out.
The Northern Territory News (NT News) even got in on the action yesterday by printing an eight-page special lift out inside, complete with handy cut lines for any reader to use an in an emergency. Personally, we’re not sure how comfortable this would be, but in an emergency, you’ve got no other choice.
Our own website, a consumer awareness online magazine called Best Five has seen a surge in Australian consumers searching for advice on which products to purchase across sanitizer, soap and thermometer niches.
Our senior edition Caleb McLaughlin explains, “We’ve seen an upward trend in consumer search terms since March 1st which is when the initial panic buying started here in Australia.”
McLaughlin goes on to say, “Consumers are more than willing to pay up to 10 times more for the same products. Yesterday someone paid $159.95 for an item that usually costs $15.95”
Time will tell how long the panic buying and overpriced purchases continue. The virus has affected very few people in Australia compared with the rest of the world. Will the toilet paper hoarders have the last laugh in the months to come? Only time will tell.