A new study by two researchers from the University of New South Wales on coronavirus-related panic shopping has revealed that Australians outperformed the rest of the world.
Internationally we were the quickest to target supermarket aisles in search of toilet paper and canned soup. We had one thing on our minds – the can.
While the panic buying was seen internationally, it was taken to an unprecedented level by Australian shoppers. Australia surpassed shoppers from around the world, shown in a "panic index," created by Professor Keane and Dr Neal.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Professor Mike Keane and Dr Tim Neal from the University of New South Wales’ school of business used Google search data from 54 countries, from January to late April, to describe the extent and severity of panic buying.
So intense was the purchasing of domestic hysteria, that the researchers had to change the graphs to demonstrate the scale of the efforts made by Australians to find desired products.
Panic buying in Australia worsened by March. Sales of canned and dry soup rose by 180 percent, toilet and tissue paper sales doubled, while short-term flour, rice and pasta shortages also occurred. We assume people were making some type of pasta dry soup dish.
"The experience of Australia is notable for the incredible speed and scale with which panic took hold in early March," they found, according to The Age.
Unlike in other countries, the escalation in panic does not appear to correspond with any significant increase in domestic COVID-19 cases
Keane and Neal said panic buying was possibly correlated with border bans or that Australians may have reacted to restrictions in other countries.
According to the Age, Australian National University marketing lecturer Andrew Hughes said it appeared Australians had been overwhelmed with FOMO, the fear-of-missing-out.
I know whenever my friends don’t invite me to a soup and TP party I absolutely cry. The only thing that cheers me up? Online shopping for flour from Coles.
"Once one person misses out on something, the FOMO principle kicks in. In this day and age, once people think they are going to miss out on something, it triggers a fear that they'll miss out on it," Hughes stated.
Keane and Neal warned there could be economic and medical repercussions from panic buying.
"Shortages created by panic buying also force consumers to devote extra time and effort to shopping, diverting time away from welfare-improving activities like work, leisure, and sleep, as well as generating psychological costs by inducing anxiety and stress," they found.