ITHICA, N.Y. – Coronavirus concerns have people stocking up on products like facemasks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, so much so that some store shelves are empty and online stock is running out.
Cornell University professor Karan Girotra says fear creates shortages.
“Panic buying arises out of rumors, unfounded information and a lack of confidence, so don’t believe everything you hear, don’t go out and buy things you don’t need,” said Girotra.
Many of these products are made in America – Charmin toilet paper and Purell, for example.
Girotra says you need to recognize coronavirus is a slow-moving event. Companies have time to adjust supply plans, unlike an event like a hurricane.
Panic buying creates problems for people who need these items more than the average person.
“Not everybody needs a facemask but people who are more high risk, people who interact with other individuals, people who have a public facing role, a cashier, somebody who is an Uber driver is probably more in need of one of these facemasks,” said Girotra.
The professor says you likely won't see price increases, but if the cheap brands run out, you may be forced to buy more expensive ones.
Girotra also says companies need to be more open about the supply they have.