Part One: HOARDING

Toilet Paper Shortage

“We have actual situations across the country where people are buying an entire case,” Baker said. “Demand became unprecedented and still is.”

Customers typically wipe out toilet paper aisles before a hurricane or snowstorm, and the system can rebound quickly. But this is different since the COVID-19 pandemic has lasted longer and it is a nationwide crisis, not just local. There is also not an end in sight for the pandemic.

Part Two: DISPLACEMENT

Toilet Paper Shortage (2)

The same number of people need toilet paper as before, but the industry is not set up to move from wholesale to home. Toilet paper for schools, offices, and public restrooms are made and distributed by different companies than the soft, smaller packaged rolls for the home.

Part Three: ADAPTING

Toilet Paper Shortage (3)

The industry is changing. Manufacturers have added factory hours, and companies that make the industrial toilet paper have struck deals to get their products into grocery stores.

The problem is that it’s not as easy as putting the commercial trucks and shipping them out. Industrial toilet paper does not have barcodes, so they are adapting by putting stickers (like on fruit) onto the rolls.

There is not a shortage, but it does take time for the supply chain to catch up to the spike in demand. It’s not likely the shortage will go away soon, but eventually, it will get there.

Related: Why You Should Consider Closing the Toilet Lid When You Flush
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