The cleaning supplies aisle in target with half-empty shelves. 

Since COVID-19 has spread rapidly through North Carolina, many citizens may continue to stock up on goods and prepare to shelter themselves in place if need be. Up to 81% of Americans have stockpiled supplies from grocery stores if needed, resulting in 19% of grocery stores across the country having disruptions within their supplies, according to Statistica.

Stocking up on necessary goods and medication is necessary according to announcements in the past weeks from the Center for Disease Control. The recent crowds at stores may have left grocery workers exhausted and in lack of supplies for the customers demanding them.

Junior art and graphic design major Natalie Pray said she went to the Publix in Greenville last week, in search for toilet paper after zero luck at other local stores. A grocery attendant who was restocking an aisle told Pray they would be receiving a new shipment that night, and suggested coming back in the morning. When Pray returned the next day, she said there was no toilet paper supply again.

“The cashier told me they had toilet paper this morning and they sold out pretty fast. I think panic buying during this time is selfish. A lot of people need certain items and we should be considerate of others. The hoarding of things like toilet paper, baby wipes and diapers, and formula is ridiculous,” Pray said.

After reaching out to the ECU Center for Counseling and Student Development, Associate Director Bob Morphet said at the current time the CCSD is experiencing an inordinate amount of demand and changes to our operating procedures, and could not participate in the interview regarding produce hoarding as a result.

During the time of high demand, most grocery stores have set quotas about how much of a certain product buyers can purchase at a single time, according to Pray. She said stores have also set early hours in the morning exclusively for the elderly to stock up on products they need.

“Always ask the workers in grocery stores about products you need, but be kind. They understand there is high demand on some products, but it is not their fault. I’ve been calling ahead to some stores to make sure they have an item that I feel may be out of stock. That way you aren’t running around to every store in the city,” Pray said.

Junior speech and hearing sciences major Madison Fuller said she has witnessed many people panic buy, but has not seen it as much in her small hometown. Fuller said she believes panic buying occurs in areas that are more populated.

Fuller also said she doesn’t believe panic buying during crises such as COVID-19 is due to anxiety, but more so a popcorn effect.

“Most people just heard about one person panic buying, then they all decided to. It’s the popcorn effect. One person starts and everybody follows. Another reason is because they don’t know when they are getting another paycheck, so they are trying to use the money they have now to get what they need,” Fuller said.

Current recommendations by chain stores include only purchasing what you may need so that more vulnerable populations such as the elderly and disabled are able to access goods.

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