Stop Buying All of the Toilet Paper!

By Chand Bellur

March 18, 2020 at 7:54 p.m. PDT

  • Panic stricken individuals have been hoarding items such as toilet paper, eggs, bread, dairy and non-dairy beverages due to novel coronavirus concerns.
  • Psychologically, people hoard during times of crisis to gain a feeling of control.
  • The shortages have made it difficult for many people to acquire basic quantities of essential items.

Panic Stricken Individuals Hoard Essentials

Go to any store these days and you’ll find some empty shelves. While most shelves are stocked, some of the most basic and essential grocery items have vanished. If you’re looking for bread, milk, flour, eggs or toilet paper, you may be out of luck. COVID-19 and twenty-four hour news networks have frightened the nation. Some are regaining control by hoarding essential items.

Appledystopia reached out to a local Target location in Southern California. After a brief interview with the grocery manager, I confirmed that neither corporate nor local management allow, enable or condone this behavior. When store employees see customers with a cart full of low-stock, essential items, cashiers deny the transaction. Hoarders have developed a new strategy to stockpile toilet paper.

To circumvent limits, extended families have employed teamwork in order to empty store shelves. On a shopping trip, multiple family members buy coveted items at multiple stores. Just a few large, extended families of deplorables can strip a city of toilet paper in a matter of days. They maintain this behavior, clearing out store shelves faster than they can be stocked.

Hoarding Guns and Ammo

Stockpiles of toilet paper are almost humorous, unless you’re forced to use the yellow pages. The rapid acquisition of guns and ammunition is much more alarming. Gun stores are overwhelmed with frightened people arming for a worse case scenario.

It’s now clear that COVID-19 may be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. The disease has a comparatively high mortality rate, spreads easily and there’s no immunity to the virus.

Given that the 1918 pandemic killed 50-100 million around the world, it’s quite possible that novel coronavirus could kill roughly the same number of people. 70% of the world will likely be infected with the disease, and perhaps 1% of them will perish. Do the math and that could be more than fifty million people. South Korea, which has done the most testing, found a mortality rate of about 0.6% of infected. Even if the mortality rate is only 0.5%, the pandemic nature of the disease could kill more than 50 million people globally. These are rough estimates for a disease that’s largely unknown. It’s possible, due to global travel and interdependency, far more could perish. When the disease grows rapidly, as in Italy, the mortality rate is much higher.

If this pandemic hits us quickly, hospitals, morgues and law enforcement will be overwhelmed. Society as we know it may collapse. This is a possibility that some are preparing for with firearms.

The other scenario, which is entirely possible, is that through testing, quarantines and social distancing, we’re able to flatten the curve and avoid overwhelming resources. Even in this scenario, there will likely be civil unrest. There already is! The 1918 pandemic started with a cooperative public, but quickly deteriorated into chaos and disorder.

How to Buy Essential Groceries

If you’re looking for toilet paper, bread, flour, eggs, milk, guns or ammo, don’t bother going to the stores. They’re cleaned out. You may be lucky, but once people find a store with a modest stock of essentials, they’re quickly cleaned out.

It’s a run on the bank effect. At first, some mentally ill people hoard items to gain a sense of control. When others see the hoarding and rapidly emptying shelves, they follow suit. You quickly have people buying up everything in sight. Also, people who normally eat in restaurants are now buying food to eat at home. Supply needs to increase, but this also takes time. Food manufacturers are also dealing with COVID-19, which may reduce production and jam supply lines.

I was able to buy eggs, half-and-half and a few other essential items by ordering them online. I made my purchase through Costco.com, however, one can order through multiple online retailers. Although Costco had no eggs when I went to the brick and mortar store, they had them online. They may reserve eggs, dairy, bread and other items for online shoppers. After all, electronic consumers can’t pull the multiple-family member hoarding trick. It’s all going to one house, so it’s much more difficult for online shoppers to hoard groceries.

If you’re a glutton for punishment and still want to go to a retail outlet, you can often check stock online before you head out. Walmart, Target and other retailers’ websites and apps are great ways to find out what’s in stock. It will save you from driving from store to store, searching for something that’s been hoarded away.

Online Shopping Will Flourish

Given the empty shelves and need for social distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic will be a boon for online commerce. Amazon, Costco, Target, Walmart and other stores will likely end up delivering more groceries than they sell in-store.

The question remains, however: what will people do with all of that milk, toilet paper and eggs? Are they going to eat a massive omelette and let nature take its course, necessitating multiple rolls of toilet paper? No. The perishable items will go bad. The toilet paper will last for years — hopefully a reminder of idiotic and misanthropic behavior

Hoarding behavior is deleterious to the hoarder and public alike. The hoarder loses money and ends up with sour milk, stale bread and rotten eggs. Maybe they need all of that toilet paper for the food poisoning? The public is harmed by unavailability of essential products. Don’t be an a–hole. Please don’t hoard essential items. Buy enough food and cleaning supplies for a week or two.

If you personally know a hoarder, you should shame this person into ceasing this abhorrent behavior. They’re doing something with drastic consequences for irrational reasons. Although most people are not hoarding, it just takes a small percentage of social defectors to ruin it for everyone else. We’re going through difficult times and it will get worse. We have to make sure that everyone has access to essential items.

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