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Coronavirus panic buying is clearing shelves of toilet paper, soap, and hand sanitizer



John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

We're all probably going to face some level of quarantine in the coming weeks as coronavirus spreads across the nation. Some people react to that by downplaying the threat, but others quickly began prepping for the potential end of the world — by purchasing all the toilet paper.

Yes, toilet paper. Although masks and hand sanitizer were the first items to be panic-purchased, consumers quickly cleared the shelves of toilet paper, paper towels, and disinfectant wipes, fearing the potential of being stuck in the house for weeks. Some stores tried to limit the number that each person could buy, but ran out anyway. From Business Insider:

Even though toilet paper doesn't protect against the novel coronavirus or its symptoms, our desire to keep a steady supply of household essentials, perhaps to regain a sense of control in times of uncertainty, is a natural one.

As stores like Walmart start limiting the number of high-demand items like toilet paper at their physical locations, and more people are encouraged to stay at home, shopping online is increasingly enticing. The only problem — and it's a big one — is that many popular online stores are also completely out of stock or offering overpriced products from third-party sellers.

The shortage of items deemed to be essential during the coronavirus outbreak has led some enterprising consumers to purchase in bulk so they can flip the products online for significant profits.

For example, the Star reported that a couple in Vancouver purchased about $70,000 worth of disinfectant wipes from multiple Costco locations, and are selling them for as much as four times the original price. They've made more than $100,000 so far.

Survivalist prep stores are also seeing an uptick in business. Not from their normal customers, who are the type of people who would already be stocked up before a crisis. In fact, it's the type of customer who would normally mock preppers. Buzzfeed News reported:

Like Mira Safety, My Patriot Supplies is experiencing extreme demand and long shipping delays. Bansemer estimates that the store has been at about 100 times its normal sales volume since February. It had to open a second food-processing facility this week to meet demand. Like Mira Safety, Bansemer said the bulk of the orders aren't coming from so-called doomsday preppers.

"We're a company that deals with emergency preparedness [and] right now we're working with emergency reactiveness," he said.
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