The World Has Gone Mad. The Shelves Are Empty Tonight!

The World Has Gone Mad. The Shelves Are Empty Tonight!

Reading Time: 5 minutes (1015 words)


The world is descending into a state of chaos and panic because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In many parts of the world, people are running around like headless chickens buying large and unnecessary quantities of necessities in preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Panic Buying

In the UK and other parts of the world, supermarkets are struggling to handle the excess demand for necessities. Customers are bulk buying essentials in the hope they won't run out of essentials in the event the UK is placed on lockdown. But, there’s a bottleneck in the supply chain. Supermarkets, suppliers, and manufactures are unable to fill the demand and are running low-on/out-of items such as:

  • Toilet roll and toilet paper
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizers and wipes
  • Nappies
  • Cleaning products and soaps
  • Baby milk
  • Over the counter medications
  • Canned foods, rice, and pasta

Sainsbury’s are Struggling

I was put in touch with a night shift worker at a large Sainsbury’s store here in the UK (thank you Reddit). He was able to provide some insights and information into how supermarkets are finding it hard to deal with panic and bulk buying.

I spoke with him on the phone while he was on shift and he said:

The world has gone mad. The shelves are empty tonight. There’s no toilet roll. The medication isles are stripped. The cold relief medications are gone before we put them onto the shelves. There are absolutely no soaps and we’re running low on baby milk.

When asked if there would be toilet roll available for customers they said:

No. We do the online orders first and the toilet roll we have available will be gone before the doors open. Our warehouses are running low and have to ration stock between stores.

He also sent me some images that show the state of the panic buying pandemic at his local store:

The Problem With Panic Buying

Most people who panic buy are not intentionally acting selfishly. Panic buying is an example of herd behavior or pack mentality. If everybody else is panic buying it’s not irrational to do the same to ensure the other panic buyers don’t take everything. But, when this happens panic buying becomes a pandemic and the results can severely impact many lives.

Everything is fine and dandy for those who can afford to panic buy, but what about the families living below the bread line? When their monthly paycheck comes through there’s little left on the shelf.

The result of panic buying is a genuine shortage of stock. This happened in 2000 when the world anticipated the Y2K/Millennium Bug would damage computer systems. It also happened in 2005 during the UK fuel protests.

Why Are People Panic Buying

The media are largely responsible for irresponsible reporting, scaremongering, sensationalism and spreading fear.

Why do they do this? … Because it makes them a lot of money. If you visit most media websites they’re either locked behind a pay-wall or the pages are littered with advertisements that take forever to load. The more people they get to click on their news article the more money they make.

They’ll write anything to get you to click. In the old days, it was called clickbait. This hysteria spills over into social media, messenger, word of mouth, etc. and before you know it millions of people are fearing the worst and racing about filling their trolly with Andrex and Detol.

That’s how heard behavior and pack mentality work but I guess in this instance you could also call it blind-sheep mentality.

How Can Supermarkets Stop People Panic Buying

An easy way for supermarkets to stop panic buying is to limit and ration how much a customer can buy. Many stores and supermarkets are already starting to limit customers to a specific number of items to ensure fairness among their customers and prevent stockpiling.

Use Amazon and eBay Instead

If your local stores have ramped up the price of the essentials or don’t have what you need in stock I highly recommend using online stores such as eBay or Amazon. Neither of these online stores are facing any stock shortages on toilet roll or other items. They’re also cheaper than high street supermarkets.

The additional bonus is you decrease your chances of catching the COVID-19 virus because you don’t have to leave the house and mingle with other shoppers who could be potential carriers :)

A newspaper is a fantastic alternative for toilet paper!

If the worst comes to the worst and you genuinely run out of toilet paper to wipe your private bits there’s a handy alternative …

Take a newspaper (ideally a trashy tabloid) and cut each page into small square chunks the size of regular toilet paper. Crumple and crush the pieces in your hands for 20 seconds and flatten the piece back out. This makes the paper feel softer. If you crumple it for long enough you can get it to feel like toilet paper.

Don’t use too much of this paper in one sitting because you run the risk of blocking up your toilet. But, it’s certainly better than using nothing at all.

Other emergency alternatives to toilet paper are:

  • Baby wipes
  • Kitchen towels
  • Face, skin and hand wipes
  • Doc leaves (I learned this one at camp)
  • Take a shower after using the toilet

Wishing you health, happiness, and a coronavirus free life :)