Opinion: Bulk buying is making self-quarantine worse

When shoppers buy more than they need, they are taking necessities from other people who may need them most


Becky Arendarczyk

Shelves in the bath tissue aisle at Meijer in McHenry stand bare on March 17. COVID-19 has sent consumers fearful that staples such as toilet paper and eggs will run out

Oliver Simpson, Staff Writer

Ever since the news of a possible COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus, citizens have been panicking and canceling all major events and preparing for the possibility of a quarantine. One way people have been preparing for this has been bulk buying, which is when a person buys an item in excessive amounts. This has been shown as buying several packages of paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc. This is unnecessary and is making the situation worse.

When one person decides to buy 40 rolls of toilet paper and 20 bottles of hand sanitizer, it takes away needed resources from other people. There has been so much toilet paper bought, people have resorted to buying tissues and baby wipes instead. This is making it significantly harder for parents to buy their babies wipes. The same thing is happening with formula. Milk is being sold out so people are resorting to buying formula. This is also making it harder for parents to buy it for their babies.

Since communities have been shutting down, having a 14 day supply of all essentials is recommended. This does not include 12 cans of Lysol, 800 masks, and 50 rolls of toilet paper. The incubation time of the Coronavirus is one to two weeks which is also the suggested length a person should be quarantined. The more a person bulk buys, the harder it is for other people in their community to buy essentials. The easiest way to protect yourself from getting the virus is to wash your hands as often as possible with soap and warm water for twenty seconds. This is extremely difficult to do when people are unable to buy hand soap and sanitizer due to others bulk buying it.

People who work for companies such as InstaCart, an online grocery shopping app, have been receiving almost triple the number of orders compared to usual. “Pretty much every time I open the app during the hours of 8 AM-8 PM,” said InstaCart Shopper Breanna Simpson, “there are at least 5 orders that are each $20+. When orders pop up, we get notifications and on a normal Saturday, we get maybe 10 [orders] at most and they’re usually $10-25. Yesterday [Saturday, March 14] we had dozens [of orders] that were all at least $20 but most were closer to $30-40. We’re also getting offers from stores in Mundelein, Vernon Hills, Lake Zurich, and a few others that aren’t normally in our region.”

Bulk buying is unneeded and is honestly making the situation worse. No family needs dozens of rolls of toilet paper, several cans of Lysol, and all the water available in a store to survive a 14-day quarantine. When people bulk buy like how they are now, it makes it extremely hard for others to buy the groceries they need for the next week. Many people live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to buy in the quantities that other people are. Since stores are constantly sold out of many items, it’s causing other people to bulk buy so they don’t have to worry about getting food for the next week.