If you’ve been to the grocery store in the last couple of days, you might have noticed a shortage or outright absence of a raft of items.
Toilet paper shortages, of course, have grabbed all the attention of the media. There’s hardly a day that goes by that there isn’t some story about people buying hundreds of rolls of toilet paper.
Hell, there’s even a video of two ladies coming to blows over TP.
But it’s not just toilet paper, people are cleaning shelves of hand sanitizers and cleaners of all sorts. Cough and cold medicines are also flying off the shelves. Staples like bread, milk and rice are being bought in bulk.
A lot of it is panic buying. People are just afraid of being stuck inside without needed supplies.
But a good chunk of this “panic” buying is by crafty entrepreneurs who buy in bulk and then turn around and re-sell their purchases online for grossly inflated prices.
Some bottles of sanitizers were being sold for $75 that previously cost $1.50 in a Dollar store.
There was one story the other day about a fellow down in the states who bought $17,000 worth of these highly sought after items and was making money hand over fist for a few days. But then the online sites such as Kijiji, E-Bay and Amazon thought better of all this profiteering and pulled the ads.
Today, a reseller can lose his re-selling privileges if he tries to hawk anything to do with the Wuhan virus panic.
The thing is though that all this panic buying and profiteering is putting people and institutions who really need those supplies in a bad position.
There are actual clinics, after all, that need face masks and sanitizers, but can’t get them now because someone bought everything out in a 20 mile radius.
And there poor people who can’t get items for themselves or children because they don’t have the financial resources to have purchased in bulk weeks.
The irony, of course, is the profiteers are now sitting on thousands and thousands of items that they can no longer sell online.
Some stores are rationing items now. That’s not a bad idea. But it’s too bad there wasn’t a way for stores to buy back these items at cost and resell them in a responsible way.