Why Are People Hoarding Toilet Paper in Response to Coronavirus?

Toilet paper on empty shelf
Getty Images

Experts say panic buying has little do with real-life effects of the virus and is more about giving people a peace of mind and sense of control.

In times of crisis, people instinctively prepare for the worst, and being without essential groceries strikes fear in the hearts of many.

As the world confronts the coronavirus pandemic, shoppers are buying up massive amounts of toilet paper in response to those fears. Experts say it has little do with actual consequences of the virus.

"People are stocking up on and hoarding toilet paper because it gives them a sense of comfort and control," said psychoanalyst Dr. Bethany Marshall. "Just seeing those white, fluffy rolls lets them know that they won't have to go out into the streets and risk catching this virus."

Inside Edition went to a Long Island Costco and saw stacks of paper towels, but not a single roll of toilet paper on the shelves nearby. A sign said there was a limit of two packages per customer.

Videos show brawls breaking out among customers fighting over the product.

"People are panicking, rather than having a realistic assessment of what could happen to them," Marshall said.

Meanwhile, the bathroom staple has become a hot commodity

On social media, people are flaunting their purchased rolls in selfies, a man was given a package of them for his birthday and a fan gave a roll, tied with a ribbon, to Katy Perry at a concert.