An Editorial by Gordon McCraw
Being somewhat of an expert in emergency preparedness and evacuation after so many hurricane threats while living in Louisiana, I am quite confused on this toilet paper hoarding occurring currently. I understand the hand sanitizer and cleaning wipe run, but toilet paper? It isn’t just in Oregon either, it is across the United States. To take a step further, Australia has limits on sales and has had to hire guards to make sure the limits are followed. This TP scare has gone world-wide.
Maybe it is because my family and I have done it so many times that we know how to prepare without panicking. I am sure part of the current scare is the fear that it is new, has no vaccine, and we get conflicting messages on TV and especially across social media. Because it is new, we are not given clear and precise guidance by the government officials who are experiencing a learning curve as well.
So, the result of this is a self-driving, perfect toilet paper storm. Retail stores get deliveries on a schedule. They use strict inventory controls based on their frequent inventories. This way they do not need a huge warehouse to hold supplies. They only get what the inventories show they have historically sold and look at on hand stock. Some of the public see on TV that toilet paper is running out in Europe. Seeing this, they run down to the store and buy much more than they really need, to ensure they don’t run out with the expected shortage hits. This surge of buying competes with what the computer indicates is normal. It begins to increase the delivery of the TP but in fact, inventory control hasn’t caught up to the surge and this causes the shelves to empty, which suggest there is a shortage, and this increases the panic buying.
Therefore, I understand the fear, in emergency situations people look for something to control. Amazingly, goods make us feel more comfortable. The good news, toilet paper doesn’t have an expiration date and will eventually get used, but does it really make sense to stockpile toilet paper? Eventually everyone’s spare room will be filled with TP, then what?