Why are people panic buying for the coronavirus pandemic?

Why are people panic buying for the coronavirus pandemic?
WatchPanic purchasing has left some aisles of the grocery stores, bare. But why are some unnecessarily stockpiling essentials in bulk?

It’s a sight you don’t normally see: store shelves stripped.

“It’s pretty crazy in there!” said Country Grocer shopper Susan Smith.

“Toilet paper seems to be in every body’s cart. The canned shelves were empty,” said another grocery shopper Charles Edmonds.

People all over the world, and here on the Island from Nanaimo to Langford, and Saanich are panic buying in bulk, stockpiling as the reality of COVID-19, sinks in.

“I didn’t want to be one of those people, but I stocked up on cans,” said Susan Smith.

At the Royal Oak’s Country Grocer, orders are up 30-40 per cent. And on the shelves, it’s showing.

“It’s crazy, let’s just put it that way,” Craig Cavin, operations manager of South Island Country Grocers.

“People are stocking up, it started with toilet paper last week, last week, bleach, and now it’s moved onto canned goods.”

The Premier today, had words for those unnecessarily stockpiling essentials.

“I’m profoundly disappointed in people who are hoarding,” said B.C. Premier John Horgan.

“I think people should be measured in their responses, and they should make sure they’re prepared. But let’s not be ridiculous about this.”

But experts who study consumer psychology, say this kind of reaction, is actually fairly normal.

“We’re not rational creatures,” said Dr. Jim Gibson, a consumer psychologist at the University of Victoria.

“We’re just rationalizing. So we end up doing things that don’t make sense necessarily, we just copy other people.”

And while copycat consumerism happens all the time, psychologists say panic buying over COVID-19 is a result of fear and a lack of clarity.

“Here we have a situation where there’s a lot of uncertainty and conflicting information,” said Gibson.

“Even if you look at different countries they have different responses. So people are uncertain. Then the social contagion kicks in. So whatever anybody else is doing they think, ‘oh my goodness, I should be doing that’.”

A social contagion, now following the actual contagion.

But the key to stemming the communal panic? Clear, consistent, and correct information.

“If we can take a second and sit back, try to relax and look at all the facts, then we’re less likely to have a knee jerk response and panic,” said Gibson.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!