Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison scolded the nation as you would a toddler, telling the country that bulk purchasing and hoarding was un-Australian.
“It has been one of the most disappointing things I’ve seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis. That is not who we are as a people, it is unnecessary. Stop doing it, it’s ridiculous.”
There’s a number of reasons that this has been going on. For some people it is genuine panic, and an attempt to regain the control that they thought they had over their lives.
For many others FOMO is kicking in, that fear of missing out is a real thing, and the thought is “I better stock up now because next time it might not be here.”
While major toilet paper suppliers have quashed internet rumours that our TP is imported from China (most of it is manufactured in Australia), you still will struggle to get hold of the stuff in an Aussie supermarket.
Our social media feeds only reinforce the FOMO behaviour when we see pictures of empty supermarket shelves.
In the seven days since the PM announced restrictions on unnecessary gatherings the situation has extended to pasta, canned goods and rice.
As Scott Morrison has outlined, this behaviour is an unwelcome distraction as our leaders unite their efforts and energy into other more urgent matters, like keeping the economy running and managing a pandemic.
So here’s five reasons to not panic buy this weekend when you’re doing the weekly shop.
- It’s selfish. I feel like this shouldn’t need to be said, but the clearing of supermarket shelves impacts the most on our most vulnerable – the elderly and disadvantaged. If you don’t need to buy something – think of your nana and put it back.
- We’re not running out of food. The majority of food sold in Australia comes from Aussie farmers. 90 per cent of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, milk and eggs are produced here, and we are able to export around half of our agricultural produce. Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud recently reminded Australians that the country produces enough food for 75 million people, with a population of only 25 million.
- Panic buying is a result of fear. We are Australians, panic is not a strategy, and we don’t let fear control us. This summer our emergency services showed great courage, putting their lives at risk to help others. In this crisis no one is asking you to run towards danger, you just need to stop hoarding the pasta.
- It will end in wastage. Most households aren’t setup to be stockpiling large amounts of supplies, especially when it comes to fresh produce. If we only buy what we need we reduce the risk of food going to waste, that someone else could have enjoyed.
- Don’t fear the lockdown. If we do end up in some kind of European style lockdown you will still be able to get what you need. In Italy you can go to the supermarket, there are restrictions on how many can enter at a time but you can still shop. In France you can leave to go to work if it is essential, and you can’t work from home. French supermarkets and bakeries are still allowed to trade, so shopping is allowed; although you do need to print out a government form if you want to leave your home.
- This is what you can and can’t do under the French lockdown.
So the message is clear – do not panic buy. There is no need to empty the shelves, so just shop as normal and buy what you need. It is clear this crisis will go on for some months, so we all need to band together, even if we are socially distant, and get through this as one.