COVID-19 And The Shifting Trend Of Panic Buying In The United States

One of the worst side-effects of Covid-19 pandemic is the unavailability of consumer goods, due to crazy panic buying among a section of consumers. Empty racks and empty shelves have become a common scene in almost all retail shops including Walmart, across the United States. As people are staying in quarantine in their homes, for about a month, panic buying is taking new forms in every passing week.

The first things that disappeared in a jiffy are hand sanitizers, alcohol hand rubs, hand washes and disinfectants. The next things, that were grabbed are toilet papers. People panic bought toilet papers, which resulted in shortage of toilet papers. Now, it’s the turn for hair clips, hair colors, toys and games.

As Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said, “You can definitely see that as people have stayed home, their focus shifted”. He also added, “People are starting to need a haircut”, in an interview with The Today Show. He further mentioned, “You see more beard trimmers and hair color and things like that. It’s interesting to watch the dynamic play out.”

Fear and trepidation are everywhere, and people can’t control the panic buying, even though all CEOs of biggest retail companies are urging customers to buy on weekly basis. In this article, we shall see, how the trend of panic buying is shifting over the course of lockdown, which is for more than a month.

The First week

The first week saw a huge sale of hand sanitizers, hand wash, disinfectants, soap, etc. As per the instructions by WHO and CDC, people are required to wash their hands repeatedly, people started purchasing loads of these cleansing agents for future use. According to Nielsen data, the sale of sanitizers increased to 470% than what it was the previous year, which is simply astonishing. Sale of aerosol disinfectants also increased to 385%. While this sort of panic buying is not recommended, but it isn’t unnatural if you consider the threat people are exposed to.

 Also Read: How Long Does Coronavirus Survive On Smartphones?

The Second Week

The panic buying spree was shifted to toilet papers by the second week. The stock piling of toilet paper hit a crazy high mark, and social media became flooded with memes and trolls. No matter how many hand rubs and sanitizers were sold, toilet paper sale will remain in the pages of history. According to Tom Sellars, CEO of Sellars Absorbent Materials told CNN Business that paper mills are working 24×7 in fixed capacity.

Third And Fourth Week

The third and fourth week showed a sudden change in the requirements of goods. In the last week of March, there was a humongous increase in the purchase of baking yeast, and spiral hams. The third and fourth week say increased in productivity of baking yeast up to 647% and 457% respectively, while the increase in sales of spiral hams went up to 622% and 413% respectively, according to a survey by Nielsen. Despite panic buying of these two products, there hadn’t been any significant shortage of these products, unlike, toilet rolls and disinfectants.

Fifth Week

Now as the fifth week of lockdown has started, people are panic buying goods of personal hygiene and maintenance, such as hair dye, hair clippers, trimmers, etc. According to Nielsen’s data analysis, the sale of hair clippers increased to 166% and hair dye and colors rose to 23%.


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