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Why Are People Panic Buying Toilet Paper? A Greek Scientist Has the Answer

Governments throughout the world have been advising citizens against panic buying during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Greece, there’s no panic in the supermarkets yet, but shoppers have nearly cleaned out some necessities such as anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizers, and toilet paper is being scooped up.
A sector source told Kathimerini that even if consumers flood the country’s supermarkets, there will still be enough stock for two months
Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, an established academic and practitioner in business and consumer psychology at the University College London (UCL), explained why consumers target toilet paper.
Speaking to Sky News he explained the difference between disaster panic and general panic, with toilet paper becoming a symbol of the latter.
“Disaster panic is normally for something you have more information on, such as a natural disaster,” he said.
“You know it is going to happen and you usually know it will last a couple days and you can prepare by being somewhat rational with what you buy.
“But in public health issues we have no idea about the time or intensity and we get messages on a daily basis that we should go into panic mode that we buy into more than we need to. It’s our only tool of control.”
He said that because toilet paper has a longer shelf-life than many food items, is prominently featured in aisles and is big in size, we are psychologically drawn to purchasing it in times of crisis.
He said: “The bigger they are, the more important we think they are.
“If we had an international sign for panic it would be a traffic warning sign with a toilet paper roll in the middle,” Tsivrikos told Sky News.

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