Like when, say, there is an outbreak of a new virus we haven’t seen before and haven’t quite figured out, and it causes production shortages of hygiene products. Like toilet paper.
If we run short of toilet paper in these conditions, is that really something to panic about? Apparently so, according to Reuters.
The news service reports:
In Australia, major grocers have restricted supplies to one pack per person. In Japan, rolls are chained to the wall in public toilets. In Hong Kong, armed robbers carried out a heist as supplies were delivered to a supermarket.
Toilet paper has emerged as the unlikely No.1 stockpiling target for people across Asia who are worried that the spread of the coronavirus epidemic will lead to supply shortages.
The things the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is making some people do. Imagine what’s going to happen when food gets to be in short supply.
Reuters notes further that other household commodities such as tissues, disinfectants, and staples like rice and pasta are also flying off shelves, though it appears as though toilet paper is what is leading to “showdowns in supermarket aisles” and, of course, the inevitable social media memes.
Are Western nations going to bring back duels next? ‘I’ll fight you for your toilet paper, winner take all’?
The unexpected demand for that all-important item has left both sellers and shoppers short. Then again, as psychologists note, since the virus hasn’t yet destroyed entire civilizations or brought down nations, people are nonetheless feeling compelled to hoard items like toilet paper because they don’t want to need it at some point in the future and not have it.
Then again, whether the outbreak is or is not being over-hyped in most countries, here’s what is real: Global supply chains are being disrupted, and that is due in large part to the continued outbreak in China, which has long since become the world’s commodities factory. Toilet paper, not so much, but the means of getting the products to factories that make the stuff have been disrupted. And there’s no telling how long that’s going to last because no one is certain about the information China is putting out regarding the pandemic except that few people believe it (because it’s BS, for the most part).
"When we're buying stuff, things close to the body are very comforting, whether that be food, body care or in this case toilet paper," Adam Ferrier, a Melbourne, Australia-based psychologist who specializes in consumer behavior, told Reuters. (Related: Coronavirus projection model death counts from March 6th through April 4th: How we get from 13 to 580 aggregate deaths in America.)
"The size of toilet paper makes it feel like a substantial, big purchase. It makes it feel like you're doing something. It taps back into that need for control. If you're buying a hefty big pack of toilet paper, you kind of feel like you're 'stocking up'. You signify to yourself that you're in control,” he added.
Consumers throughout Asia, according to social media posts, are also trying to ‘feel as though they’re in control,’ as they shuffle through store aisles with overstuffed carts. Yes, toilet paper is among those items.
Shelves are being stripped bare, and to be frank, this is happening in countries where the virus has barely made a presence.
Yes, it could spread and in fact, daily, the virus is spreading. But has it gotten to the point where we need to be stripping store shelves bare and challenging people in aisles, “Gimme your toilet paper, or else!”
Well, what all of this does prove is that those of us who have, long ago, made the preparations for such emergencies were right to do so. Because all of this coronavirus stuff may just be getting started.
See the latest coronavirus news and information at Pandemic.news.