WMU Expert Explains Why You Can’t Find Toilet Paper, Etc.
A lot of people are just shrugging their shoulders and shaking their heads as the pass the area where toilet paper rolls are normally stacked at the store. Sure, if you're lucky, you can buy some, but along with disinfectant handi-wipes and bleach, some products require timing and luck for you to be to buy them.
Western Michigan University's Tom Kelly is a supply chain expert, and says you can blame it on so many people's changes in behavior caused by the pandemic, in addition to disruptions to global supply chain.
Kelly is an instructor in the Haworth College of Business integrated supply management program. He says here's why things are they way they are, at the store.
“The main concern is exposure to the virus. Reducing exposure has changed the way we purchase products and how much we buy. Many people are limiting their public activities like shopping to every other week, which means they will buy two weeks’ supply of product at a time. This in turn makes shelves look less full, and people start to get concerned about the availability of a product and buy more, just in case. Prior to the pandemic, we all had certain products at home to keep us safe and healthy. With new recommended protocols from the Center for Disease Control, we are now consuming more of these products faster, which results in spikes in demand." Tom Kelly via WMU release.
In the release, WMU notes some figures from Nielsen Research: "Nielsen data revealed hand sanitizer sales were up more than 470%, and aerosol disinfectant product sales shot up 385% the week ending March 7. The following weeks saw spikes in household paper products, with Nielsen reporting that bath tissue, facial tissue and paper towels all saw triple-digit sales increases during the week that ended March 14."
Be patient. Kelly says "To increase production to these levels, companies have to add significant resources and capacity—everything from people to equipment. Sourcing these resources takes time.”