It was the eerie days of March and among the supermarket aisles, there was one lane in particular that resembled a wasteland a la, Mad Max.
It had violence. Opportunism. But there was one thing that it lacked.
Australia led the world in hoarding toilet paper when the coronavirus panic first gripped the country at the start of March, and Swiss and German researchers now know who among us were the worst culprits.
Older people, generally. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.
People who were organised, and felt more affected by the perceived threat of the coronavirus pandemic, tended to be the biggest hoarders.
In fact, it is a means to partly determine someone’s personality.
“Partly, this effect was based on the personality factor of emotionality—people who generally tend to worry a lot and feel anxious are more likely to feel threatened and stockpile toilet paper,” the researchers wrote.
“Other observations were that older people stockpiled more toilet paper than younger people and that Americans stockpiled more than Europeans.”
But the researchers admit their research is far from complete.
“Subjective threat of COVID-19 seems to be an important trigger for toilet paper stockpiling. However, we are still far away from understanding this phenomenon comprehensively,” they wrote.
In Australia, on March 2 we began buying toilet paper like never before, baffling supermarket workers, retail industry insiders and the global population. It was a demand which was instantaneous and unpredicted.
It led to brawls, with one mother-daughter duo in New South Wales being charged with affray after an alleged violent confrontation caught on video over a packet of Quilton went on to become a viral sensation seen around the world.
Meanwhile, one would-be profiteer tried to return more than 150 packs of toilet paper for a refund once the hysteria subsided.
It didn’t go well.