Could the toilet paper shortage return? Here’s what experts say
We all remember when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. We all expected to hunker down and work from home for a couple weeks with some obsessive hand-washing, but nothing too drastic. Then . . . we got a toilet paper shortage.
That’s right. Everyone who lived through 2020 will always remember how TP flew off the shelves. Who would’ve thought butt paper would become a pandemic staple when the pandemic is a respiratory illness? And, with the recent surges in cases and closing down of businesses, we’re seeing something of a deja vu.
Marketing toilet paper
Henry C. Boyd III, a clinical professor of marketing at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, commented on the recent uptick of toilet paper purchases. “There are a lot of folks out there who know an item is in high demand – paper towels, cleaning supplies, toilet paper – who think ‘I have to stockpile, just in case,’” Boyd explained.
On Tuesday, Walmart executives revealed on a call with investors that some of their stores are having trouble keeping toilet paper, among other items, in stock. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon commented on the recent shortage: “I was in stores last week and I saw variance from one state to the other, one location to the other, just depends on how people are feeling in that moment.”
McMillon continued: “The action is the same as what we saw before. They’re just stocking up on paper goods, cleaning supplies, and dry grocery.” John Furner, president of Walmart’s U.S. business, corroborated McMillon’s statement, explaining toilet paper & cleaning supplies were in the highest demand. However, in a surprising turn of events, people are buying less masks & hand sanitizer.
Will purchasing limits come back?
Back during the TP shortage last spring, Walmart and other stores had a purchase limit, and it looks like they’re bringing it back. Walmart told Business Insider: “We will continue to keep a close eye on product availability and work with our supply chain to help meet customer demand.”
“As is normal during periods of fluctuation demand,” they continued, “store managers have the discretion to implement item limits based on their specific store experience to help sustain product availability.”
In fact, many major grocers, such as Kroger, H-E-B, and Wegmans, are already bringing back product limits. For now, this includes limits on toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies.
Improving the supply chain
Despite the recent frenzy, Walmart believes they’ll stay strong amidst this wave. “I think we’re going to be able to respond in this instance better than we did in the first half of the year,” said McMillon, “although we’re still – as a total supply chain – still stressed in some places.”
McMillon added: “It’s disappointing to watch our rationalities and see as many out of stock as we had in consumables right now, generally, although it’s a whole lot better than it was earlier in the year.”
Where can you find TP?
If statements from grocery store execs haven’t calmed you down, there’s still no need to panic! If you’re looking for a list of where to get your quarantine TP, we’ve got you covered.
While they’ve sold out of disinfecting wipes and paper towels, Amazon is selling 30 rolls of Solimo 2-Ply TP for $19.99, 80 rolls of AmazonCommercial Ultra Plus TP for $47.99, 80 rolls of Angel Soft for $60.48, and 80 rolls of Scott for $72.26. And you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home!
Notably, chains like Walmart, Staples, and Office Depot also offer a delivery system. No matter what your current TP situation is, you’ve got options. Don’t panic! And, it’s very, very unlikely stores will actually run out of all the essentials. Hopefully people will learn from the last spike and try not to hoard those rolls!