Panic Buying


Jewel Hardwick '20, Staff Writer

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families went to their local grocery stores to stock up for predicted lockdowns and quarantines. But the startling amount of people had shelves emptying faster than they could be restocked. And just as quickly, the detrimental effects of panic buying are sweeping the nation.

Panic buying is a type of herd behavior, mainly seen in times of disaster, such as right before a hurricane or a blizzard. With the number of cases in the United States growing exponentially, 143,055 recorded at the time this article was written, and companies and schools sending patrons to work from home until further notice, Americans have read the room, and have seen fit to prepare. 

“Now, all those people are working from home and most of them are making food, and buying it at a grocery store, instead of going out,” said Annelies Goger, a fellow with the Brookings Institution specializing in workforce and safety net programs, shared with The Guardian. “Overnight, the channels whereby people are getting food are just completely changing.”

This “bottleneck” of food production, as CNN Business calls it, can be detrimental to those who are reliant on certain and currently sold out products. A viral tweet by Suit Up Maine, a progressive political group based in Maine, reminded shoppers to stay mindful of others in their community. “When stocking up for #SocialDistancing, if an item has a WIC symbol beside the price, get something else. People who use WIC to feed their kids can’t switch to another brand or kind of food. If a store runs out of WIC-approved options, they will go home empty-handed.”

Even in the middle of a global pandemic, there are still ways to care for your community. Staying mindful of what you buy, and the amounts of what you buy will ensure that everyone gets what they need. Being kind to hospital, grocery, delivery and other essential workers will help them through their long day. And by caring for the community around you, even if you are 6 feet away, will help us all emerge on the other side healthy and ready to go back to normal.

Image courtesy of Wonderlane, on Flickr.