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The Logic of Panic Buying


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We go through about one 2L pump bottle per year.
I bought a 2-pack of 50ml hand sanitizer in early September when I went to the pharmacy for my flu shot. I keep one in the house and one in my truck. They're both still a little under half full as I use them sparingly as from what I understand the jury is still out whether it does more harm than good.
 

Theo R Cwithin

I cast "Baconstorm!"
I disagree.
I shop for TP (and other similar products - paper towels, paper plates, soaps, trash bags, etc, even cat litter) once a year. About mid-January (once the Christmas bills are paid off). I know how much I use in a year. And then I buy 13 months worth - just in case something goes awry.
Mostly because I hate continuously shopping for this stuff.
I'm fortunate that I can 1) afford to shop like this, 2) have the space to store it.

And yes, I've typically got two months worth of food.

This has proven very handy in the current situation.
I usually live with several months of supplies on hand. However I spent the last year whittling it all down in order to move. "Seriously," I thought to myself, "what are the chances of a major global crisis during the exact few months I'm planning a transcontinental move?"

Doh! 😣

.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Wife said no to 24 if these. Can of Spaghetti provided for scale.
IMG_20200409_081406.jpg

It's a Czech style pilsner brewed by Baltika breweries in Russia which is owned by Carlsberg which is Danish.

So my Czech/Russian/Danish beer is being consumed in NZ.

I want to buy another 20 for emergency yeast supply honest. It's only two dozen.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I went on a trip to Russia some years ago, as part of an MBA class. We were looking at how business is done in Russia as a contrast to other countries. One of the things we did was tour Razin brewery at @10AM.

When we got to the end of the tour, they ushered us into a boardroom, where we were each seated with an array of all 14 or so of Razin’s products,

It seems they were giddy at having just been bought by Heineken, so they were giving us samples of everything to try, By “samples”, I mean we each had whole bottles, all opened in front of us, with glasses.

Did I mention the tour started at 10AM?

I definitely enjoyed much of what I had, and vowed to look for their stuff when I got back to the USA, especially their kvass- a traditional Russian low-alcohol beer made from fermented raisin bread which tastes a lot like Dr. Pepper. It’s low enough in alcohol content they even sell it as a fountain drink.

Alas, the new owners seemed to have different plans. I’ve never seen a Razin product anywhere since that day.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I went on a trip to Russia some years ago, as part of an MBA class. We were looking at how business is done in Russia as a contrast to other countries. One of the things we did was tour Razin brewery at @10AM.

When we got to the end of the tour, they ushered us into a boardroom, where we were each seated with an array of all 14 or so of Razin’s products,

It seems they were giddy at having just been bought by Heineken, so they were giving us samples of everything to try, By “samples”, I mean we each had whole bottles, all opened in front of us, with glasses.

Did I mention the tour started at 10AM?

I definitely enjoyed much of what I had, and vowed to look for their stuff when I got back to the USA, especially their kvass- a traditional Russian low-alcohol beer made from fermented raisin bread which tastes a lot like Dr. Pepper. It’s low enough in alcohol content they even sell it as a fountain drink.

Alas, the new owners seemed to have different plans. I’ve never seen a Razin product anywhere since that day.
Yeah I was surprised by the beer. Baltika 9 is the only one I don't like but it's still drinkable.

It's better than a lot of brands such as Stella Artois, Corona, Heineken. Better than a few German beers.

Baltika 6 us a nice Potter, Baltika 5 and 7 are good for a European style macro lager.

Blows our normal beers out of the water, not as good as our craft beers.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I’ve had a couple Baltikas. Might have been 5 & 7. I liked them pretty much.
Perfectly drinkable, nice even. Large bottles and cans as well.

Closed bottlestore shelf.
IMG_20191206_182611.jpg


Baltika 5,6,7,9, Imperial Stout and two Zatecky Gus. Big yellow can is Zhiguli (spelling?)

5 is very similar to 7, grain taste isn't as strong.

Baltika 6 highest ranked of the range.


Baltika 7

And premium range. 10% blow your socks off.
 
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Tonguez

Legend
I usually live with several months of supplies on hand. However I spent the last year whittling it all down in order to move. "Seriously," I thought to myself, "what are the chances of a major global crisis during the exact few months I'm planning a transcontinental move?"

Doh! 😣

.
So it was your fault then Jonah!!!
 

Mad_Jack

Explorer
The pharmaceutical company I work at (we literally invented modern toothpaste and toothpaste in a tube back in 1850) has a shelf upstairs where they store all the extra product and rejects - Made an extra six boxes when they come twelve to a case? Can't send half a case, toss it on the shelf. Printed the wrong Lot Code on the labels? Oops. On the shelf.
We get to take home anything on the shelf.
I haven't paid for toothpaste since I started three years ago.

One time I brought home a box of 100 large soap packets, made for industrial use - each packet mixes up into a gallon of liquid soap. The one time I actually did it just to see what it was like, it took me a month to use it all.
So I think I'm good on soap, lol.

Right now, I have four and a half rolls of good toilet paper left, and eight rolls of the nasty stuff that leaves lint all over your butt. Being the only one in my house, I should be good for another month and a half on the good stuff and maybe even three on the low quality stuff.
I am down to about four rolls of paper towels, though. Have to do something about that sometime in the next month.

Food-wise, there doesn't seem to be much problem yet at the local supermarkets with anything other than meat and paper products, and I don't generally buy much fresh vegetation except for onions, potatoes and an occasional green pepper. I usually make a large pot of either soup or pasta with meat sauce for dinner and eat that all week, so as long as I can find some sort of meat around once a week I'm good. A package of hot dogs and a bag of frozen french fries will make four meals for me. I buy a pound and a half of cheese and a loaf of bread for lunch at work.
Having lived on peanut butter and ramen noodles for extended periods while I was unemployed for several long stretched over the past few years, it'll take some fairly major consequences from this virus thing to really make me worried about running out of food.


(Fun story: Once upon a time, the arcade at the local casino used to have a thing where after you'd spent a certain amount of money there, they upgraded your card so that you got a certain number of free games every time you came in. I used to play Fruit Ninja on the big touchscreen, and it paid out one ticket every ten points. I used to consistently score eighty or more tickets every game, and thus I'd end up with eight hundred tickets with my ten free games every day. Stopping in every day after work, I'd end up with at least 3500 tickets a week. In addition to the normal junk prizes, you could also drop major amounts of tickets to get things like video games, game systems, or even ask the manager to custom order you stuff. It took me six months, but I actually got a laptop entirely with free tickets. (If I'd actually chosen to invest some money in it, I could have had it in half the time for about $50...)
Relevant to this topic, for several months I was pretty much dead broke as my unemployment just barely covered my bills. And so, each week, I'd spend 3000 tickets to buy a $30 Burger King gift card, and then every night for dinner I'd go buy two or three of the 10-pc. chicken nuggets which were $1 apiece at the time. One card would get me nine or ten meals.
I was quite literally earning my daily bread with my exceptional skill at Fruit Ninja... :cool: )
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Dumb panic buying story. Closed for Easter Friday so staff can restock.

"Supermarkets aren't doing as many specials and prices are creeping up".

Staff working in Friday to restock. Overtime rates time and a half day in lieu.

$30+ an hour
Work 8 hours, get 8 hours holiday pay added.

Groceries cost more. No **** Sherlock.
 

Janx

Hero
Before the scarcity panic started, I bought a jug of sanitizer because I was fixing the plumbing that weekend and the water was out. That stuff will last forever because once I fixed the pipe, we wash our hands like normal people.

My wife's got a friend in Australia, which is about a week ahead of the US in the future (a joke for another time) and they already had the TP scarcity so she sent me to the store to grab a pack. The next day, the hoarders hit, and I haven't seen TP on the shelves since in Houston. A friend who works at HEB scored me another pack last week.

As to why it's scarce? I assume two factors started it: intent to price gouge and desire to quarantine for a long time. With no limits in place, those people emptied the stores.

My agent at HEB then explained why the problem continues. Space on the truck. Paper products take up more space and the stores had every category of product wiped out, so they never got enough TP to fully restock the shelf.

Once the scarcity hit, everybody realized they couldn't just nip off to the store for more of anything as needed., so when anything they might need hit the shelf, they grabbed it. If TP happens to be on the shelf when I'm in the store this week, I'm grabbing my two packs because I don't know when I'll see more. I would not keep doing that if I have at least one sealed pack left. But it's random chance when the truck arrives and the shelf has product and I haven't seen it in the store since before the hoarders hit three weeks ago.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Shelves here are fine for TP. Got low at one point.

Super markets closed today. Friend had the ideas of going at 6:30 yesterday to dodge the crowds. So did everyone else.

Might break the powdered milk out, we've got a litre left we just don't want to go out due to Easter.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Our TP situation is odd.

We we were running low enough to put it on the grocery list when the panic buyers emptied the shelves. Before we could run out, our houseguest was able to score a pack at a drugstore- single-ply, but hey!

But before we even made a significant dent in THOSE- we decided to use them before the rest of our preferred brand- Dad was able to buy a 12-pack of the good stuff. And a couple days ago, my maternal aunt brought us another.

So we’re good for the foreseeable future.
 

practicalm

Explorer
Another explanation for the TP shortage is that the manufacturers run at 24/7 capacity for normal buying. There is no additional capacity to add so the panic buying demand cannot be matched and given that this isn't likely to last for very long, there is no easy way to increase production capacity.

The only thing I really haven't been able to find is yeast. Everything else seems to have been restocked at some point or another.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Another explanation for the TP shortage is that the manufacturers run at 24/7 capacity for normal buying. There is no additional capacity to add so the panic buying demand cannot be matched and given that this isn't likely to last for very long, there is no easy way to increase production capacity.

The only thing I really haven't been able to find is yeast. Everything else seems to have been restocked at some point or another.
Yeast gone here as well.

We have a bit and can still buy bread so it's not a massive deal.
Just avoid supermarkets on Wednesday and Thursday, benefit days and often payday.

With Easter there was a run on wine.

With Facebook it seems everyones just drinking.

Sex toy sales also tripled.

Polishing off some beer, wife's hooking into the wine.
 
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Tonguez

Legend
Another explanation for the TP shortage is that the manufacturers run at 24/7 capacity for normal buying. There is no additional capacity to add so the panic buying demand cannot be matched and given that this isn't likely to last for very long, there is no easy way to increase production capacity.

The only thing I really haven't been able to find is yeast. Everything else seems to have been restocked at some point or another.
You do know theres yeast everywhere - including in the air, harvest that
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Another explanation for the TP shortage is that the manufacturers run at 24/7 capacity for normal buying. There is no additional capacity to add so the panic buying demand cannot be matched and given that this isn't likely to last for very long, there is no easy way to increase production capacity.

The only thing I really haven't been able to find is yeast. Everything else seems to have been restocked at some point or another.
From what I have heard from people working in retail, the supply of TP is just fine. But TP is a very bulky product to ship, and the panic buyers are outstripping the ability of manufacturers to deliver it. IOW, the bottleneck is logistical, not supply.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
From what I have heard from people working in retail, the supply of TP is just fine. But TP is a very bulky product to ship, and the panic buyers are outstripping the ability of manufacturers to deliver it. IOW, the bottleneck is logistical, not supply.
I used to work in a distribution center. TPs easy to ship as you said very bulky.

The bottleneck is the guys who go around the DCs collecting stuff. Only so many can fit down the aisles, only so many palatizers and forklifts available and can fit etc.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Another explanation for the TP shortage is that the manufacturers run at 24/7 capacity for normal buying. There is no additional capacity to add so the panic buying demand cannot be matched and given that this isn't likely to last for very long, there is no easy way to increase production capacity.
It isn't that simple.

1) Much of the capacity is used in making paper products for workplaces - they make TP expecting folks to be going to the bathroom in office buildings for much of the week. This leaves us with an issue much like we have with flour - there's plenty of it around, but not the stuff you buy for your home.

2) After the initial rush of panic buying of everything, there's only so much capacity for restocking stores - and on a truck those paper products take up huge volume for a relatively small number of units. So, they only restock so much at a time, and everyone who didn't panic-buy scoops up what does appear.
 

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