Why are people hoarding toilet paper? It may be human nature

Mar 17, 2020, 10:46 AM | Updated: 10:54 am

Utah small businesses...

103.5 The Arrow's Jon Smith shared this photo of the mostly-empty toilet paper aisle at Target in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –Grocery stores have been wiped out of their toilet paper in stock recently.

Log onto any social media site and certainly pictures of empty shelves will begin popping up.

Toilet paper panic

Those working in the trenches are feeling the pressure too.

A grocery store worker was quoted in the Cache-Valley-Daily saying they have neighbors and friends trying to give them money before their shift in return for bringing back a few rolls.

I think most of the citizens in this valley have loaded up – one grocery worker explains.

In addition to bathroom tissue, disinfectant wipes and other hygiene essentials, pallets of bottled water are flying out the door of wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.

Now, we’re getting an explanation behind the mad rush. It may seem like a weird way to panic, but Psychology experts say there’s actually some science behind it all.

Frank Farley, past president of the American Psychological Association, spoke recently to the Deseret News.

He, in fact, isn’t surprised to see the run-on bathroom tissue and water. According to Farley, they are the two things that people see as most fundamental to normal bodily function.

“Water is key for human life,” says Farley. “So we shouldn’t be surprised that people want to build up a stock of water.”

Taking back control

While the phenomenon of “panic purchasing” may actually have more to do with how it makes people feel than anything else.

“It’s about ‘taking back control’ in a world where you feel out of control,” Paul Mardsen, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts London, told CNBC.

Now it should be noted that elected officials are discouraging any sort of hoarding mentality, calling it unnecessary. In some instances they are even calling it dangerous, because of the situation, it can leave more vulnerable populations in.

One last reminder: don’t call 9-1-1 when going out for toilet paper and encountering an empty aisle.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


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Why are people hoarding toilet paper? It may be human nature