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Panic buying round two: Which items will it be this time?

By Tavanna Green Nov 3, 2020
Beers are in high demand in AldiPacks of beer is being sold out in Aldi. Photo by Tavanna

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of a new lockdown has sent some people into a panic-buying frenzy.

Although places of education will remain open, shops selling non- essential items will once again close. In light of this announcement, items like beer, pasta, flour and sugar have been disappearing from shelves.

Beers are in high demand in Aldi
Packs of beer are selling out in Aldi. Photo by Tavanna Green

“People tend to partake in panic buying for fear of there not being any left when you actually need it,” said Philip Richardson, a lecturer at Kingston University.

“Panic buying is not necessary. It benefits no one and it only causes problems for the food supply chain,” he said.

A shelf in Aldi that shows that only two ripped packs of plain flour are left.
Only damaged bags of plain flour left on the shelves in Aldi. Photo by Tavanna Green

Shops seem more prepared, with more stock of items that sold out quickly in the first round of panic buying.

Stocks of Toilet rolls in wilko
Large stocks of toilet rolls on display in Wilko. Photo by Tavanna Green

However, stocks of groceries are still rapidly disappearing from store shelves and although everyone is wearing a mask, queues are posing challenges for social distancing.

No social distancing is maintained by shoppers as they shop for coming lockdown
Stores are busy. Photo by Tavanna Green

“There are few side effects or symptoms of Covid-19 that involve fast use of toilet rolls so it just struck me as ridiculous or ludicrous that people would be panic buying toilet rolls,” said Richardson.

“It’s more about social panic caused by Covid-19 rather than the actual need for the object that you are purchasing.”

People are lining up to purchase their goods in Wilko
The queue in Wilko. Photo By Tavanna

Janet, an M&S sales assistant at the Kingston branch said: “Right now, we have a limitation on toilet paper, pasta and rice.”

The limit at M&S is to deter people from buying essential products in bulk.

It seems that the strategy of supermarkets is to slow the number of items being sold so that each person has a chance of buying essential items for their household.

This strategy is supposed to allow stores to monitor products in high demand and give sales assistants time to reorder stocks.

An empty shelf sgowing where stocks of sugar used to be
Sugar is currently sold out in Aldi. Photo by Tavanna Green

As we have seen, things do not always go according to plan.  Some household supplies and goods are still rapidly decreasing even if they have not yet disappeared from shelves.

Pasta is decreasing in stock on shelves in Sainsbury's
Pasta sales are high. Photo by Tavanna Green
Dry shampoo being sold out from shelves
Surprisingly, dry shampoo stocks are low. Photo by Tavanna Green

Even though essentials are disappearing from the shelves, not everyone is panic-buying.

Jess Spears, a media and communications student at Kingston said: “I’m too broke to stock buy. You can still get deliveries from stores.

 “There are no issues there. The only problem is finding a date when you are free.”

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