By Nicolas Rontanini
Everyone has been hoping to see an end to the pandemic. However, this hope seems to be getting further and further out of reach, with Covid cases still being reported. As such, a return to the anxiety and stress associated with pandemic could occur. We’ve already seen such behavior, with a return to hoarding.
Many retail stores assumed the notion of “bulk-buying” (buying more at a time) would dwindle following the initial panic of the pandemic in spring 2020. However, the opposite has since proven true as many Americans have continued to bulk buy various items, according to the “Wall Street Journal.” People who lived through the pandemic and experienced the supply shortages that accompanied it likely want to avoid a repeat performance.
According to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), a research firm that tracks household goods and their consumption, results showed an increase of the average annual sales growth by food and beverage volume by 3 percent in 2020-’21, compared to 0.5 percent 10 years prior. The “Wall Street Journal” reported people stocking up on items like pancake mixes, macaroni and cheese and frozen meals. Consumers are also buying larger volumes of products, with product volume up 2.1 percent than the average size back in 2019, like with large-size pot pies from Conagra seeing an increase in sales.
Hoarding leaves fewer items in shelves.
Why are people still bulk buying products? With the recent omicron variant, people have returned to the problems they saw during the onset of the virus. The variant caused a shortage of supplies, seen with a decrease of items in stock, to about 85 percent compared with the 93-95 percent before the pandemic, according to the IRI.
I understand why people are buying products in bulk. Everyone was caught off guard when the virus first hit, not being able to even visit the supermarket to shop, and they likely want to ensure they are prepared. Spending more at one time, and conversely eating more at home, can actually be less expensive going forward, stated by an article in the “Wall Street Journal.”
As such, storage apparatuses have doubled, like sales of chest freezers rising to $1.714 million, and refrigerators to $2.8 million, according to data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
This is an extremely uncertain time, this much is true. However, there is something we gained that we lacked before the pandemic, and that’s the benefit of hindsight. We know how to get through another pandemic should it be necessary, which leads us to a difficult question: will we need to?
In these times, it’s easy to see the worst-case scenario, as if the pandemic will never end. I myself can attest to that. Especially as mask mandates begin to roll back. However, there are promising signs. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that at this time, booster shots should protect against severe illness, making a specific vaccine for omicron unnecessary. The Pfizer anti-Covid pill also prevents severe illness, and should guard against the omicron variant as well, according to the “Washington Post.”
Bulk buying food items to stock up - photo from Flickr.
While things look bleak, and hoarding might be the best conceivable option, it’s important to stop and notice that there is hope.