Opinion: Buying in bulk

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As Coronavirus panic and hysteria set in, social media is flooded with images of empty shelves and overpriced hand sanitizer. Buying products in bulk may seem like an efficient way to regain control during these times, but it leaves others at a disadvantage. If people simply bought what they needed, there would be enough for everyone.
It is understandable why this problem is occurring. People are scared and they feel like they don’t have any control over the current proceedings. The reason people are panic-buying during the threat of COVID-19 is because the brain’s survival mode takes over, and rational decision making is set aside, said Ali Fenwick, an expert in human behavior at Nyenrode Business University. According to Dr. Fenwick one of the reasons we bulk buy is because of herd behavior. Like a domino effect, if you see someone around you buying five cases of toilet paper, you get the immediate urge to do the same, even if toilet paper wasn’t on your grocery list.
Another reason we bulk buy is because we want a sense of control. With borders shutting down and people being ordered to stay home, our lives have changed immensely in a short amount of time. To many, the sense of not being in control is scary and over buying products is a way to regain some of it.
However, this is the root of the problem. A pandemic is a new thing for all of us, but it is not an excuse to be selfish to those in our community. Why should you get five cases of toilet paper, while your neighbor gets none?
I’m sure it’s no one’s intention to leave those around them empty handed, but it’s common sense. When you contribute to emptying a store’s shelves, you contribute to others not getting that product, especially those who are vulnerable and in need.
The Federal Reserve said unemployment rates could reach 32 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who are already struggling to provide for their family can not afford to buy large amounts of products just to ensure they will have enough.
Another group of people who should be considered is the elderly. The elderly are at high risk, and if they have to go to numerous stores to get basic necessities, their possible exposure levels are much higher.
The sad truth is that panic buying affects many people behind the scenes. Empty shelves put others at a disadvantage and it is simply not fair to overbuy products. There are more than enough products out there for everyone if people just take what they need. Next time, think before you buy.