Chris Morley, managing director of market research firm Kantar, wrote a blog post on LinkedIn titled  Why stockpiling is not the crazy, selfish behaviour that it seems (March 21, 2020).

« Huge volumes of shoppers were adding a few extra purchases of products they normally buy and adding a few purchases of categories that they don’t often buy into their trolley or basket and were doing this more frequently, i.e. also shopping more regularly than normal, across these first few weeks. This adds up to a whole lot of buying. »

« So, for categories that people buy frequently and in volume, like bread, fruit, meat, where there is a lot of inventory to go at, the shelves gradually became empty but for categories that most people don’t buy often at all, they were wiped out almost immediately. »

« It also explains why retailers’ restrictions on certain categories to several purchases per shopper and the government’s pleas to not buy more than you need, have not worked very well so far. »

Les Binet tweeted:  « It sounds like “panic buying” follows the usual Ehrenberg-Bass principles, with sales increases mainly driven by a lot of light buyers buying slightly more, rather than a small minority of heavy buyers clearing the shelves. »

Greg Callus tweeted: « Huge swathes of the population who were eating 1 (or even 2 or 3) meals out (cafe breakfast, Pret lunch, work dinner) are now home-working so eating at home & many kids aren’t getting school meals. Inexperienced cooks, new to it, invariably buy too much (quantity & variety). »

One week after the above blog post, Gareth Price tweeted a BBC article titled Coronavirus: Aldi, Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda lift some restrictions (March 31, 2020):

« “The average HH spent an extra £62.92 during the past four weeks, equivalent to adding five days’ worth of groceries” – or, w/ an average HH of 2.4, less than £1 per person each day. Hardly evidence of mass hoarding with schools closed & so many WFH. »

Will Oremus wrote a blog post titled What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage (April 2, 2020).

« In short, the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion’s share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they’re making more trips to the bathroom, but because they’re making more of them at home. With some 75% of the U.S. population under stay-at-home orders, Americans are no longer using the restrooms at their workplace, in schools, at restaurants, at hotels, or in airports. »

« Talk to anyone in the industry, and they’ll tell you the toilet paper made for the commercial market is a fundamentally different product from the toilet paper you buy in the store. It comes in huge rolls, too big to fit on most home dispensers. The paper itself is thinner and more utilitarian. It comes individually wrapped and is shipped on huge pallets, rather than in brightly branded packs of six or 12. »

« But the industry can’t just flip a switch. Shifting to retail channels would require new relationships and contracts between suppliers, distributors, and stores; different formats for packaging and shipping; new trucking routes — all for a bulky product with lean profit margins. »

« While toilet paper is an extreme case, similar dynamics are likely to temporarily disrupt supplies of other goods, too — even if no one’s hoarding or panic-buying. The CEO of a fruit and vegetable supplier told NPR’s Weekend Edition that schools and restaurants are canceling their banana orders, while grocery stores are selling out and want more. The problem is that the bananas he sells to schools and restaurants are “petite” and sold loose in boxes of 150, whereas grocery store bananas are larger and sold in bunches. Beer companies face a similar challenge converting commercial keg sales to retail cans and bottles. »

« In the meantime, some enterprising restaurateurs have begun selling their excess supplies of toilet paper, alcohol, and other basics. Last week I picked up takeout at a local restaurant with a side of toilet paper and bananas. The toilet paper was thin and individually wrapped. The bananas were puny. They’ll do just fine. »

National Farmers Union tweeted an extensive thread titled How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting food and agriculture? (April 6, 2020)

[ Corona virus, COVID-19 ]

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