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Rush on stores - panic buying or exerting control?

Published Wed, Feb 19, 2020 · 09:50 PM

THE rush for toilet paper and other basic necessities in the face of the 2019 novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is a natural behavioural response to the loss of psychological control.

Face-mask hoarding has been a fairly understandable response to fears Covid-19 could reach pandemic proportions. Seemingly less logical has been the rush for dry food products, toilet paper and other supplies which, to date, have shown little sign of running out.

Singapore social media has been flooded with images of empty store shelves and people buying large quantities of paper goods, rice and instant noodles after the city-state raised its alert level from yellow to orange, reflecting a heightened virus risk. The mass buying prompted some stores to impose a purchasing limit on dry goods and vegetables while Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for calm assuring Singaporeans: "We have ample supplies, there's no need to stock up".

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