The recent toilet paper shortages across the U.S. since the coronavirus lock down has been attributed to fear-driven hoarding where some people believed they might be unable to leave their homes for many weeks or months, even to go to the market. Many pundits have said that the excessive toilet paper buying behavior has been ridiculous. But when you look closer at the numbers of how much TP the average American normally uses every week (and consider that many working Americans are typically away from home 8-10 hours most weekdays), it appears that ‘trapped at home’ TP hoarding reasoning was not so bizarre after all. Take a look at the stats…
Americans apparently love toilet paper
The amount of toilet paper the average American typically uses is around 141 rolls per year.
– David Garfield, global leader consumer products practice, AlixParters, consulting firm
A hundred-and-forty-one rolls of toilet paper per person every year? That is nearly 3 rolls per person every week. OK, wtf is going on here? Are the bad diets of ultra processed food causing the average American ongoing, weekly bouts of diarrhea?
No wonder so many people went into panic buying mode.
Unrolling the toilet paper data
Here is how the recent U.S. toilet paper buying frenzy breaks down:
Online and in-store U.S. toilet paper sales rose 51% between Feb. 24 and March 10, as buyers started getting uneasy about the growing number of virus cases. But sales rocketed a whopping 845% on March 11 and 12 as states announced lock downs.
-NCSolutions, a data and consulting firm
In normal times, prior to the coronavirus crisis, about half of U.S. toilet paper sales were commercial, while the other half were for homes. Since the lock down with many offices and schools now closed, however, U.S. household demand for “luxury” (home use) toilet paper is up 40%.
–AlixParters consulting firm
Have we reached the end of the roll on the TP buying frenzy?
The level of TP purchased has leveled off somewhat over the past couple weeks, but the reduction in purchases is not enough to keep the shelves stocked at many markets across the U.S. Compared to the crazy “extreme buying period” of March 11-24, home-use (luxury) toilet paper sales are down 62% right now. But unfortunately, sales are still 6% higher than they were before the COVID-19 lock downs around the U.S. (Source: NCSolutions)
What alternatives do people have?
Is there any option besides pulling the leaves from your backyard tree or stealing from public restrooms? Yes. And apparently social media has helped lead Americans right to it. According to Google Trends, U.S. searches for “bidet” reached an all-time high in March, 2020. The Associated Press reported that Tushy, which makes a $100 bidet attachment for toilets, had a sales spike in mid-March, hitting $1 million in a single day. And sales are still running 10 times ahead of projections.
We can only hope that the new bidet trend continues. It not only saves trees but with all that overstock in people’s closets, come summer eBay may be rockin’ with enough TP deals we can get some for our cats.