Manic Panic: Limited Supply When You Over Buy


Ashlee Santos

Happy holidays, Sultans! With Christmas getting closer, shoppers all over the world have started their holiday buying, but this year’s shopping is a little different. 2020 isn’t a normal year, and neither are its holidays. Everybody is rushing to get their hands on anything they can- they’re panic buying!

At the beginning of COVID-19 me and my family did panic buy because we didn’t know what was going to happen, so we got prepared,” says SHS Sophomore Montzerratt Verastegui Vargas. Like Montzerratt and her family, many people were unsure of what was going to happen so they stocked up on provisions.

 The reason people have panic bought during quarantine is because many have never been through a pandemic and they don’t know what to expect. 

When COVID-19 hit the states, shelves were wiped clean of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and food; even the powdered milk was gone! Anything people could get their hands on would be put in the cart and would go through the check-out. 

Because every item was being bought in abundance, this caused massive shortages nationwide throughout the U.S. Many people were left wondering when the next time they would get some necessary items, so they turned to online item shopping- only for their purchases to arrive months after their order.

The term ‘herd-mentality’ became popular during this time. Because other people were panic buying, people felt they also needed to buy and over-stock items so they would have enough.

Panic buying not only generates item shortages, but it also generates fear. Sophomore Emily Estrada said “The only time I think my family panic bought was for my brother’s medication. My mom wanted to have lots of his medication because she didn’t know how long the lockdown was going to last.” The thought of not getting necessary medication is understandably daunting.  

Many people were scared they wouldn’t get essential things like their medication. Unfortunately, this fear makes the crisis worse because people tend not to think straight when they’re confused or panicking, so in turn they too become a panic buyer. This is the start of a vicious cycle.

With Christmas being the most popular holiday, both online and in-person stores are having to work double time to meet the holiday demands. On top of these demands, there is a new wave of panic buying slowly arising. This panic buying could be partly fueled by Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of regional stay-at-home orders based on hospital capacity.

The stay-at-home order went into effect on December 4, 2020 at 12:59 p.m. and applies to regions in California who are facing low numbers of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. The order will be a requirement for regions who see their ICU capacity drop below 15%.

This stay-at-home order includes a three week lockdown that forbids the gathering of people. With the order in place, bars, wineries, salons, and outdoor and indoor restaurants are shut down. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, must operate at 20% capacity.

I believe panic buying is caused by a fear of stores shutting down and not being able to buy essentials” says Sophomore Aiden Allen. If places like grocery stores are put at limited capacity, it will create lines outside stores in the cold winter weather and due to the sudden lockdown, will reignite the “need” to panic buy. 

 Some feel that because of the sudden lockdown, it could be a while before they get fresh supplies so they will buy items in large quantities so they feel prepared. 

However, if people didn’t panic buy and just carried out their regular shopping, there wouldn’t be a shortage of items. If item shortages didn’t happen, people wouldn’t need to buy an abundance of items so as to make sure they have enough to last. 

To fix the problem, you can’t be a part of it. With the holidays coming up, the amount of people shopping increases. Because essential stores are going to limited capacity, many people won’t be able to make it into stores as often as they need and will buy large quantities of both necessary and unnecessary items.

Sultans, remember to stay safe this Christmas and to enjoy your time with your family. Try to avoid the temptation to panic buy and make the most of what you have at home.