The Disappearance of Toilet Paper and Cleaning Supplies

Posted by Jessi-Marie Agosto.

Due to the re-emergence of shutdowns and curfews, as a result of spikes in COVID-19 cases, toilet paper and cleaning supply aisles are emptying once again. Already, “22 states have imposed restrictions aimed at decreasing the spread of the virus” and therefore, purchase limits are once again emerging at supermarkets and retail stores (Fox Business). These limits are striking panic in shoppers, causing them to once again, stock up on the necessities such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Major discount retailers such as Walmart and Costco are already sold out of cleaning supplies like disinfecting wipes, while smaller stores such as Walgreens and Dollar Tree have the essentials in stock (Fox Business). The reason for this, according to Whitney Hatcher, a collections specialist, is that “‘people are seeing the empty shelves at bigger stores and panic buying’” (Fox Business). Hoarding of the necessities has already hit us when COVID-19 first made its appearance and as we are beginning to slowly recover, the demand for such items has once again made its appearance.”

As the toilet paper and cleaning supplies fail to be replenished at a rate that meets this unexpected new surge of demand, shoppers are not the only ones being negatively affected. As the demand for items increases, retailers are having to invest more money into their supply chains in order to meet these unexpected surges, something they have been doing “over the last several months” (Fox Business). Based upon what occurred last spring of 2020, we can expect to see limitations on the necessities including water, dairy, and of course, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. In San Diego, the renewed shortages are clearing shelves quickly as “‘the TP aisle is bare. Big jugs of milk mostly gone’”, according to Melin Isa, an internet marketer (Fox Business). I can only imagine that as cases continue to rise, the number of panic-stricken shoppers will rise as well, leading to many empty shelves, unlocking another fear for not only the virus, but also, for the possibility of starving to death.

In my opinion, from working at the retail store, Walgreens, and therefore encountering many families of four or more, this winter will bring forth many fears surrounding the possibility of going without a meal. Last winter, my family did not have to struggle with finding toilet paper, however, they did struggle to find canned goods as the limitations in stores were always faulty. Honestly, such limitations work to a certain degree, as there are ways to get around, and because of these ways, many suffer the repercussions. While it is necessary to purchase what one needs, to hoard, on the other hand, causes unnecessary stress for those who are not panicking because they reach the markets and the shelves are completely empty. As retailers try their best to replenish the sold-out items, it is important to remember that these are hard times for everyone.

Jessi-Marie is a finance major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2023.

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