HOUSTON — Toilet paper, water, frozen foods, eggs, milk/dairy - good luck finding it Thursday night.
Hand sanitzers and cleaning solutions are also sold out, but given the coronavirus/COVID-19 concerns, that's understood.
Panic buying set in across the world, including in Houston, after major venues and events announced closures and cancellations mid-week due to concerns about the coronavirus. The cancellations come as leaders and health experts try to "flatten the curve," encouraging people to practice "social distancing" to slow the spread of infections.
Stores say there are no supply chain issues but still put limits on certain items, like toilet paper, which is sold out in most stores.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner had words Thursday night for those who went into panic-buying mode and emptied shelves across our area.
"The world is not coming to an end. But if it is all that bottle water and toilet paper you are buying will not get used," the mayor tweeted. He also addressed concerns about going to work: "The City has rescheduled or canceled some events in March. We are not closing businesses, or limiting the number of employees or telling people not to go to work." He also tweeted about his plans for this weekend, "On Sunday I am going to church. I am going to pray for our City and Country. And I am going to thank him for his many blessings."
H-E-B also tweeted about the panic buying, telling customers, "H-E-B has been preparing for #COVIDー19 & we are in a strong position to keep replenishing shelves. Customers shouldn't panic, we continue to restock shelves. We encourage preparedness, not stockpiling – please buy what you need & leave some for your neighbor behind you."
Some people have defended "stocking up" just in case they have to quarantine for two weeks.
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Psychologists spoke to CNBC about why people panic buy.
Paul Marsden, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts London, says people use “retail therapy” to manage their emotional state.
“It’s about ‘taking back control’ in a world where you feel out of control,” he told CNBC. “More generally, panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychology needs.”
People feel like they need control, relatedness and competence, which can be "achieved when making a purchase gives people a sense that they are smart shoppers.”