BALTIMORE — While stores try to restock barren aisles, some shoppers are turning to unfamiliar websites to purchase sold out necessities such as toilet paper.
Diana Pelletier first checked Amazon, but when they were sold out, she did a quick Google search and found Tifoka.com.
The online business advertised toilet paper at a reasonable rate. For $30, Pelletier bought 96 rolls.
“Two boxes of the 48 rolls,” said Pelletier.
But this treasure trove of toilet paper quickly dissipated.
When Pelletier posted about her score on Facebook, several people commented that the website was a scam.
She went to check on the status of her order and discovered that the website had been taken down and no one was answering her emails.
“It actually shows on my bank statements the name of a woman and not the name of the website,” said Pelletier.
Fortunately, her bank issued her a refund and sent a new debit card.
As for Pelletier’s dwindling supply, she’s now waiting for stores to restock.
Why do people panic buy?
“This buying does make people feel better, makes people feel safer, helps make people feel more in control of their actions,” said Marie Yeh, associate professor of marketing at Loyola University Maryland.
Yeh said there’s no logical reason why people are stockpiling toilet paper at this time, except that it makes them feel like they’re doing something proactive.
“Toilet paper is largely produced in this country, and so the chances of us running out are fairly low,” said Yeh.
She added that the stockpiling is coming from a place of uncertainty, and to try to think rationally before buying what everyone else is stashing, like bottled water.
“It’s not like anything has happened to our water supply, it’s not like anything will happen to our water supply. Water will still be running, unlike situations where the power might go out and your water might actually stop running,” Yeh said.
And stockpiling can lead to waste. It also keeps people from getting a hold of things they actually need right now.
“The food supplies in this country are not endangered. The supply chain, as of yet, has not been endangered,” said Yeh. “You never know what might happen, but the chances of that happening are unlikely.”
Governor Larry Hogan also discouraged Marylanders from panic buying during a news conference on Tuesday.
“Panic-buying just increases person-to-person exposure. Instead of hoarding cleaning and hygiene products, share with your neighbors. All the stores are going to remain open, they’re all restocking shelves, we’re not going to run out of those basic necessities. We’re all in this together and it will take every one of us working together to keep people healthy and to save lives,” said Governor Hogan.
Preparing for a pandemic
The Department of Homeland Security recommends having a two-week supply of food and water ready before a pandemic. And to periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply at home.
It’s also important to get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records and to talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they fall sick.
For more information on how to prepare, and what to do during a pandemic, click here.