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Coronavirus Pandemic Panic Buying
More than half of Canadians unable to buy essential items due to COVID-19.
With the arrival of COVID-19, Canadians are living in a strange new reality where they are unable to purchase household essentials they very recently took for granted. But how bad has it been in Canada? To investigate, Finder surveyed 1,201 Canadian adults from March 16-21.
Finder research found more than half (54%) of those surveyed say they were unable to buy basic necessities in the last month. That’s an estimated 16.3 million Canadians who struggled to purchase groceries, medicine, hand sanitizer and, of course the most sought after (and sometimes fought over) item, toilet paper.
|Those unable to buy essential items in the last month||% of Canadians|
|Able to buy||54%|
|Unable to buy||46%|
Toilet paper and hand sanitizer in short supply
Toilet paper is the hardest item to find with nearly one-third of Canadians (30%) admitting they were unable to purchase it. In a close second came hand sanitizer and soap (29%). And while dry food (15%), medicine (10%) and other toiletries (11%) were more readily available, they were still being hoarded by many Canadians.
While it makes sense that easy-to-stockpile items lead to supply shortages, even more concerning is that 18% of Canadians have had trouble buying fresh food. If you have found it difficult lately to purchase your fresh groceries in-store, check out our list of places to buy groceries online. Double bonus, with online shopping or delivery, Canadians are better able to fulfill their obligation to social distancing.
|What have you been unable to buy in the last month?||% of Canadians|
|Toilet paper or tissue||30%|
|Hand sanitizer or soap||29%|
Panic buying affects both men and women
Gender didn’t seem to be much of a factor in dealing with the frustration of panic buying, with only slightly more women (58%) facing product shortages as compared to men (54%).
Toilet paper was the top item both genders struggled to buy, with 32% of women and 29% of men saying they were unable to purchase it in the last month.
Middle-aged Canadians most likely to struggle to buy basic necessities
While everyone is dealing with the unpleasant side effects of panic buying, Canadians aged 45-54 are struggling the most, with 63% unable to purchase basic necessities for their families. In a close second are those aged 35-44 with 58% of them struggling to buy. And just over half of young Canadians aged 18-24 (54%) and 25-34 (53%) had issues purchasing essentials.
The elderly are most at risk of experiencing serious complications of COVID-19, so it is sad to see more than half of Canadians (52%) aged 65 and over unable to purchase the essentials, like hand sanitizer and soap, they need to stay home and stay healthy.
|Toilet paper or tissues||26%||29%||34%||31%||31%||32%|
|Hand sanitizer or soap||22%||27%||31%||36%||29%||29%|
|Toiletries aside from toilet paper/soap||9%||11%||13%||15%||15%||11%|
|None of the above||46%||47%||42%||37%||48%||48%|
Panic buying escalates from east to west
The further west in Canada you go, the worse the panic buying and hoarding behaviour get. The data suggest Atlantic Canadians are least likely to panic buy, with only 44% of residents unable to buy essentials. In Quebec, 47% of people have struggled to purchase necessities and 55% in both Ontario and the Prairie Provinces.
It appears panic buying is the most prevalent on Canada’s West Coast, with 60% of British Columbians saying they have struggled to buy basic necessities in the last month.
|Toilet paper or tissue||22%||37%||30%||34%||19%|
|Hand sanitizer or soap||29%||34$||31%||29%||16%|
|None of the above||56%||40%||45%||45%||53%|
How Canada compares to other countries for hoarding
Finder ran the same survey in six countries: the United States, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
The Philippines recorded the highest number of people unable to buy essential goods (58%), followed closely by the United States and South Africa (56% each). Of the six countries, those living in Hong Kong are least likely to report being unable to buy what they need (43%).
|Country||% Unable to Buy Essential Goods|
North Americans struggling to buy toilet paper
Nearly one in three North Americans have been unable to buy toilet paper, suggesting it’s a popular item to panic buy in the region – or perhaps demand has simply outstripped supply for other reasons. 32% of Americans and 30% of Canadians have been unable to buy toilet paper compared to 16% of people in the Philippines, 17% of people in Hong Kong and 18% of people in Ireland.
|Country||% Unable to Buy Toilet Paper|
South Africans unable to buy hand sanitizer
Over a third of South Africans say they’ve been unable to buy hand sanitizer in the last month (37%), the most of any country in the study. Nearly a third of Americans reported the same (32%), followed by Canadians and Irish (29% each).
|Country||% Unable to Buy Hand Sanitizer|
South Africans and Filipinos struggle to buy dry food
18% of South Africans reported they were unable to buy dry food like rice. Filipinos were the next most likely to report the same (17%), followed by Americans and Canadians (15% each).
|Country||% Unable to Buy Dry Food|
Fresh food hardest to buy in the Philippines
Those living in the Philippines had the most difficulty buying fresh food, with 27% reporting they’ve been unable to make a fresh food purchase in the last month. South Africans were the next most likely to report being unable to buy fresh food (21%), followed by North Americans (18% for Canadians and 17% for Americans).
|Country||% Unable to Buy Fresh Food|
South Africans struggling the most to buy toiletries
South Africans are the most likely to say they’ve been unable to buy toiletries (excluding toilet paper), at 18%. Those from the United States and the Philippines are the next most likely to say they’ve been unable to buy toiletries (14% each).
|Country||% Unable to Buy Toiletries|
One in five Filipinos (22%) have been unable to buy medicine in the last month, the most of any country included in the survey. A large proportion of South Africans (19%) said the same. A similar number of Hong Kong residents, Americans, Canadians and Irish reported being unable to buy medicine – roughly 1 in 10.
|Country||% Unable to Buy Medicine|
Image: Getty Images
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