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Why are Americans stockpiling toilet paper again?

… blame the anti-vaxxers?

I walked into a store last week and saw and entire wall of empty shelves where paper products were sold. I thought that it was a supply problem, but in reality, it was more than that.

The hoarding of toilet paper has returned as the delta variant continues to storm through the U.S. and people refuse to take a vaccine or use masks.

The odd question is this: Why did it happen the first time, and why has the stockpiling returned?

This apparently started in the summer but has taken a while to bombard America.

The question is why

A number of stories have appeared that are trying to decipher why this is again returning. What they note is that the manufacturers are again trying to produce as much as they can, just like in the early days of Covid.

American shoppers are starting to stockpile toilet paper again, and it's pressuring manufacturers to boost production.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Procter & Gamble, the largest toilet paper maker in the US, is speeding up its production lines and running its factories 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to meet demand.

Evidence is growing that consumers are starting to stock up on home essentials as concerns grow over the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus across the US.

Last month, Insider reported that Costco customers were complaining on Twitter that some of its stores were out of toilet paper and water. These tweets date back to early July.

Other shoppers said that Costco was also limiting the number of products customers could buy, a tactic used by grocery stores in the early days of the pandemic to prevent shoppers from stockpiling.

One retailer supplied by P&G told the Journal that the company was limiting what it could buy. A spokesperson for P&G declined to comment to the newspaper and to Insider on this.

Mary Hanbury, “Procter & Gamble is running its toilet paper mills 24/7 as the spread of the Delta variant prompts Americans to stockpile again,” Business Insider, September 1, 2021

That story is more than a month old, but the run appears to be continuing.

Nobody knows why

Shortages of auto parts have caused problems in that industry, but that is a technical issue. This comes down to fear,

Toilet paper stock levels are nowhere near as low as they were in March 2020, according to data from market research firm IRI, cited by the Journal. However, they are below the average in-stock levels for consumer products overall.

Some smaller retailers say they're struggling to keep toilet paper in stock.

"Customers are asking a lot of questions," Arthur Ackles, vice president of merchandising and buying at Massachusetts-based grocery chain Roche Bros, said of product shortages in his stores, per the Journal. P&G imposed limits on orders last week, he said. Roche Bros has 21 stores in total.

It's not only soaring demand causing these bottlenecks, however. The ongoing labor crunch is battering the US supply, causing delays and shortages across the board.

Mary Hanbury, Business Insider, September 1, 2021

This is similar to the craziness that occurs on the East Coast when a Nor’easter is about to hit. In those cases, it is just bread, eggs, and milk, and it is short term.

In this case, it has been longer term, and while not as bad as 18 months ago, it is still a pain.

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