Toilet paper sells fast amidst COVID-19 turmoil

Demand skyrockets for toilet paper, shortage across the country

More stories from Klaus Ebenhoch


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Toilet paper shelves across the country are barren as a response to COVID-19.

Retail stores across the country have empty shelves due to the mass panic that has arisen with COVID-19. 

Toilet paper, along with other sanitary products, are being bought in bulk by paranoid customers.  

They want to stock up on these goods in case COVID-19 becomes a bigger pandemic than it already is.  

On Mar. 14, President Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency in light of COVID-19.  

He and the Trump administration addressed reporters outside the White House to discuss actions moving forward. 

According to USA Today, Trump said he would free up $50 billion in disaster money and expand capacities at hospitals.  

Because people want to slow the spread of the virus and limit social interaction, people are stocking up on toilet paper and other goods as soon as possible.

Thea Gallagher from Perelman School of Medicine, believes the mad rush to buy toilet paper is a psychological reaction to the widespread panic. 

“I think that people feel like there’s not much that they can control right now,” Gallagher said to Today. “I think part of it helps people to feel like they have a little bit of control over what’s happening to them in their lives.”

Americans are preparing for long-term isolation by buying toilet paper in bulk. 

Since COVID-19 is airborne and hard to identify without testing, there is a lot of paranoia and uncertainty about how to avoid it.

While there are some methods to help control the virus, there is no way to effectively keep it from spreading. Therefore, there is no way to know when the pandemic will end.  

According to NBC’s Today, watching others stockpile toilet paper could have a domino effect that pressures others to do the same. The peer pressure to buy toilet paper as well as the uncertainty of COVID-19 has led to an over-exaggeration of the pandemic.

Consequently, the shortage of toilet paper can have negative long-term effects on the economy.  

With no definite timeline to the resolution of the pandemic, it is hard to predict how justified it is to stock up on toilet paper. Toilet paper does not prevent the spread of COVID-19, so the mass purchase of toilet paper is only putting pressure on production companies to pump out a higher volume.  

Jeff Anderson, president of a paper product manufacturer, does not understand the desire to buy toilet paper in bulk.

“You are not using more of it. You are just filling up your closet with it,” Anderson said. “What happens in the summer when demand dries up and people have all this extra product in their homes?”

According to the New York Times, toilet paper is typically made to order. Since there is no large inventory of toilet paper on hand, paper production companies are forced to make changes to normal operation.

Anderson is having to pay his employees overtime to work longer shifts. The pressure from consumers to increase production increases labor costs for paper production companies.

The craze to buy toilet paper in bulk also affects those who do not succumb to the panic of the pandemic. 

When I went to buy toilet paper three days ago, my only option was off-brand, one ply toilet paper — which is quite uncomfortable, to say the least.  

While I can respect the investment people put in to prepare for COVID-19, the bulk purchase of toilet paper seems to be an exaggeration, especially because it has no relation to the respiratory complications of the virus.

Whether or not you are overly concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, I suggest you buy toilet paper while you can. 

Otherwise, you will soon be stuck without anything to wipe with.

Ebenhoch can be reached at [email protected].