Coronavirus pandemic panic buying
43% of Hong Kong adults have been unable to buy essential items amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 has spread across the globe so too has panic buying, leaving many unable to buy basic necessities. But just how bad is it in Hong Kong? To investigate, Finder surveyed 1,201 Hong Kong adults from 16-26 March.
Finder’s research reveals that nearly half (43%) of those surveyed say they were unable to purchase a basic necessity in the last month. That’s an estimated 2.8 million people who couldn’t buy items like hand sanitiser, dry food, medicine and, you guessed it, toilet paper.
Hand sanitiser and toilet paper are the hardest to come by
Cleaning products like hand sanitisers and soap are the hardest products to come by in Hong Kong, with one in five (20%) reporting they were unable to purchase either product this month. It seems some people have forgotten that in order to prevent the spread of a global pandemic, we all need clean hands. If you were someone who was caught out, here is a list of places to buy hand sanitiser online.
Toilet paper was a close second, with 17% unable to make a purchase. Other products people couldn’t buy – potentially due to others panic buying and hoarding – include fresh food (13%), dry food like rice and pasta (12%), and other toiletries (12%). Sadly, 11% of adults in Hong Kong couldn’t purchase medicine.
|What have you been unable to buy in the last month?||% of Hong Kong Citizens|
|Toilet paper or tissue||17%|
|Hand sanitiser or soap||20%|
Older generations were less likely to hit strife at the shops
If you’ve been worried about some of the most vulnerable in the community, take heart – Finder’s survey reveals Hong Kong adults aged 65+ were least likely to report not being able to purchase items at the shops. Just 22% of those aged 65+ in Hong Kong say they couldn’t purchase an item. That’s certainly not the case in countries like Ireland, where a similar Finder survey found that this age group was actually more likely to have trouble purchasing certain items.
When we look at the product breakdown, not many young adults had difficulty buying toilet paper (14%). That’s compared to 16% of those aged 65+ and 23% of people aged 55-64.
|Toilet paper or tissues||14%||17%||14%||22%||23%||16%|
|Hand sanitiser or soap||17%||22%||21%||24%||19%||13%|
|Toiletries aside from toilet paper or soap||10%||14%||8%||13%||13%||9%|
|None of the above||56%||57%||59%||55%||56%||78%|
Men and women had a similar experience
Overall, Hong Kong men (43%) and women (42%) were almost just as likely to have difficulty at the shops. However, there were some differences in the types of products each gender struggled to purchase. Women were more likely than men to not be able to buy some products over others and vice versa.
|Toilet paper or tissues||16%||18%|
|Hand sanitiser or soap||22%||19%|
|None of the above||58%||57%|
How Hong Kong 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 sanitiser
Over a third of South Africans say they’ve been unable to buy hand sanitiser 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 Sanitiser|
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 have had the most difficulty buying fresh food, with 27% reporting they’ve been unable to buy fresh food 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|
Where to buy necessities online
With the uncertainties of how long this pandemic will last, it’s no surprise that many are still flocking to supermarkets to stock up on necessities. However, leaving the house may be daunting for many – even if it’s just to pick up the groceries.
Online shopping is a great way to find those products that are unavailable in physical stores and to help limit community transmission of the virus. Here are our handy guides on where to buy products online:
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