WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Resist: You don't need to stock up on toilet paper and paper towels

Posted November 18, 2020 1:57 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2020 6:26 p.m. EST

People are starting to panic – about rising coronavirus cases, about the potential for another lockdown and about a shortage of household staples like we saw in the spring.

Dr. Robert Handfield, professor of supply chain management at North Carolina State University, asks you to resist the urge to buy up toilet paper and paper towels.

"I think people are already starting to panic, starting to worry there isn’t going to be enough, that there’s going to be shortage. It’s just human nature," he said.

Still, it is unnecessary. The key word to Handfield is perception.

Even where shelves are empty, he said, "They are going to continue to replenish, and pretty soon people will figure out it’s not a shortage. It’s a perceived shortage.

"All these brands like Angel Soft and Quilted Northern and so forth, they've got plenty of inventory. They’ve gone overtime to produce it. They’ve got lots of inventory, so there certainly isn’t going to be a shortage this time around," Handfield said.

Stores are being proactive as well, with many limiting purchases of staples to better manage supply.

"There's no need to go out and buy two months' worth of toilet paper or paper towels," Handfield said. "There’s going to be a steady supply of these products. They’re going to restock the shelves."

That's a message that shoppers like Sharon McClain appreciate.

"I don’t think you should hoard," she said. "I think, like most stores limiting everything to two per family, I think that’s a good idea, so everyone can get some, and everyone won’t rush to the store trying to find it."

Bruce Honeycutt agreed, but with a caveat.

"I would like to hope that people are limiting one item per person," he said.

Target limiting sales of paper products

"But if the vaccine doesn’t come within next couple of months or weeks, I do feel that we could go through another scare."

It's natural to worry, Handfield said, but add a dash of patience to the panic.

"If you go in the grocery store and they're stocked out, just plan on coming early the next morning. They would have restocked, and you’ll find what you need," he said.

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