Hamsters Beware! Grocery Stores Across the Globe Begin to Ration Toilet Paper Purchases as Covid-19 Cases Surge

A Spar supermarket in Vienna

By Kurt Stolz on 15 November 2020
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Supermarket chains in various parts of the world including the Austria, Germany, the United States, and Great Britain are reimposing limits on a variety of quarantine-preferred items such as toilet paper, paper towels, and disinfectant wipes.  The stores are attempting to avoid the pandemic-induced hoarding of such items that was rampant in the spring as the number of new daily coronavirus cases surges across the globe.

A headline in the Austrian newspaper Heute read, “Hamster Buying!  Viennese Storm Supermarkets,” and similar headlines were in evidence in regional German papers as well.

Hamsterkäufe, or hamster buying – is so named as it is akin to the manner in which the rodents stuff their cheeks with food.

In Germany, Aldi and Lidl report an uptick in the ultimate coronavirus quarantine product, toilet paper.

In London, Waitrose and Tesco, two of the country’s largest supermarkets, have both put caps on items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, dried pasta, flour, and eggs. Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s, which does not currently have a cap on purchases, is encouraging shoppers to shop alone.  Asda, another large supermarket chain, has a cap on hand sanitizer, as does Boots, a chain of drug stores.

Meanwhile, in the United States, supermarket chain Kroger said it had “proactively and temporarily set purchase limits to two per customer“ on a list of items including toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes.  Wegmans confirmed to FBT that it has had limits on toilet paper and paper towels since May, while Giant supermarkets is limiting customers buying bundles of toilet paper or paper towels to one bundle each, although the company said it sees little if any evidence of panic buying or hoarding.

Texas-based H-E-B said in a news release on its website that “all customers have access to products they need.” As of late last month, the supermarket chain has a limit of two to packs of toilet paper and/or paper towels, as well as limits on purchases of hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, disinfectant sprays, and sanitizing sprays.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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