Then we think we have it figured out! Those hoarders. Give an evil stare to the woman who has two twelve-packs in her cart- she is a hoarder! Stop her!
But wait a minute? Maybe she’s not a hoarder. Until very recently, I might have thought she was, but I read a fascinating article called, “What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage” by William Ormeus, the senior writer at Medium Media. He explained the situation in a way I had never thought about and he quotes from the industry giants to prove it.
According to Ormeus, toilet paper industry insiders will tell you that home toilet paper and commercial toilet paper, the type sold to restaurants, schools, hotels, businesses, and airports, are two fundamentally different products. The market for “TP” paper is relatively constant and production is predictable.
But suddenly, there was a shift. People are staying home more; therefore, there is a greater demand for home “TP” and far less of a demand for the commercial style. So maybe the lady with all that toilet paper on the way to the checkout aisle isn’t hoarding. If she has a large family at home, she may need it.
So why don’t the toilet paper companies just shift what they are making? Ormeus explained that some can, but some cannot. What is used in commercial “TP” is different than the product that is used in home “TP”- that’s why it feels different. Companies are finding themselves short stocked on the home materials- so while we won’t run out of “TP”, we may have to get used to a different feel in the coming months.
But then, let’s think about it and apply it to other products. I drink a lot of coffee. I buy coffee regularly from Tim Horton’s, Coffee at the Lofts, and when I must, the vending machine at Shawnee State University. Now, I am mostly drinking Folgers from home. The places I mentioned above don’t use Folgers or Maxwell House, so we may see a scarcity of those products on shelves before long. There will be coffee, but perhaps not the brand you’re used to getting.
Steaks and chicken are selling out at grocery stores because so many restaurants are closed. You might find fewer cases of Pepsi and Bud Light on the shelf because fountain soda and draft beer sales have nearly been eliminated.
No doubt, there are people who hoard, but perhaps not as many as you think. And when it comes to toilet paper, we won’t run out- but we might miss soft-sounding titles like Angel Soft,Charmin, and Quilted Northern again. It could get a little rough (bad pun intentional)
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