Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

This year has been a very interesting year to say the least. The United States has gone through months of federal, state and local stay-at-home orders due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that’s swept the globe.  

Back when it first hit the U.S., stores across the country weren’t prepared for the rush of Americans wanting to bulk up on items, and supplies ran short. The first week when officials talked about possible stay-at-home orders, stores ran out of toilet paper.

News stories and social media talked about people rushing out to buy as much toilet paper as they could. You would see stories of people with carts full of 45 rolls of toilet paper – the bulk packages, not just one, but like three or four of them. You would also see stories of people getting into fights over toilet paper in the stores. Stores finally had to limit the amount of toilet paper you could buy to try and ensure people could get it. Some stores even had to move the toilet paper to a safe spot in the store or have employees guard it in the aisle.

I will admit that at first, I was a little surprised by the rush on toilet paper versus other items I would deem essential. The first few days that I heard about stores running out of toilet paper, I wondered if I should get some or just continue to buy the usual amount when I do my weekly shopping.

I didn’t want to rush out and buy up a bunch of toilet paper, but my dad and grandparents have always taught me to be prepared and sometimes buy items in bulk if prices are right.

Alas, I succumbed to the fear of possibly not having any toilet paper for me or my family, so I did buy some. I asked my wife when I was at the store if I should buy a bunch of rolls. She said no and that I should buy just enough for us to get by until supplies get balanced back out and to think of others that also need toilet paper.

I didn’t buy any more than I thought I needed, so I basically bought a month supply instead of the amount I normally buy. The supply I bought was able to hold me and my family over until the stores could start keeping supply on the shelves.

(Now for the funny part to this toilet paper shortage of 2020.) When the shopping rush calmed down and supplies started to come back into the stores, some of the people who had rushed out and bought up so much toilet paper could not resell it on the internet, so they tried to return it to the stores. Some people even had to resell the toilet paper at a loss just to get rid of all the extra they had.

I guess the lesson I’ve learned (and the moral of this article) is to please be thoughtful of others. We as a society need to think of everybody and not just ourselves, even when it comes to purchasing essential supplies for a crisis. Please be thoughtful when shopping. There might only be four packages of toilet paper, hamburger, canned vegetables, etc., so ask yourself if you need all four or maybe just two so the person behind you can get some also.  

Derek Brawner is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance™. He’s a small-town guy living in the big city of Springfield, married with two kids, a huge Star Wars fan and a griller extraordinaire.