Coronavirus pandemic panic buying
One-third of Singaporeans have been unable to buy essential items amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, so too has panic buying, leaving many unable to purchase basic necessities. But just how bad is it in Singapore? To investigate, Finder surveyed 1,206 Singaporean adults from 16 March to 8 April.
Finder’s research revealed that one-third of those surveyed say they were unable to purchase basic necessities in the last month. That’s an estimated 1.65 million people who couldn’t buy items like hand sanitiser, dry food and medicine.
Hand sanitiser and fresh food are the hardest to come by
Cleaning products like hand sanitiser and soap are the hardest products to come by in Singapore at the moment, with 15% of Singaporeans reporting that they were unable to purchase either product this month. It seems that some people have forgotten that in order to prevent the spread of a global pandemic, we all need clean hands. If you’ve had trouble finding these products, here’s a list of places to buy hand sanitiser online.
Fresh food was a close second, with 13% of Singaporeans unable to purchase it on their shop. Other products that people couldn’t find due to panic buying and hoarding include toilet paper (12%) and dry food like rice and pasta (11%). Sadly, 8% of adults in Singapore couldn’t purchase medicine.
|Items Singaporeans were unable to purchase||% of Singaporean adults|
|Toilet paper or tissue||12%|
|Hand sanitiser or soap||15%|
Finder’s analysis suggests that younger generations were less likely to have difficulty at the shops. 31% of 18-24-year-olds and 35% of 25-34-year-olds said that they couldn’t purchase an essential item.
Around 39-40% of 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64-year-olds said that they couldn’t purchase a necessity over the last month, which is notably higher than the national average. Unfortunately, our sample size for those aged 65 and over was too small to draw any definitive conclusions for this age group.
|Items Singaporeans were unable to purchase||18-24||25-34||35-44||45-54||55-64|
|Toilet paper or tissues||12%||13%||20%||14%||16%|
|Hand sanitiser or soap||12%||16%||20%||19%||20%|
|Toiletries aside from toilet paper or soap||8%||7%||9%||14%||10%|
Men versus women
Singaporean women were slightly more likely than men to hit strife at the shops, with 38% of women saying that they couldn’t purchase at least one essential item, compared to 35% of men.
The biggest gaps were for things like toilet paper (16% of women versus 13% of men) and hand sanitiser (19% of women versus 16% of men).
|Items Singaporeans were unable to purchase||Women||Men|
|Toilet paper or tissues||16%||13%|
|Hand sanitiser or soap||19%||16%|
|None of the above||62%||65%|
Singapore has the lowest levels of panic buying among countries surveyed
While a third of Singaporeans are struggling to buy basic necessities, some countries are faring worse. Finder ran the same survey in seven countries: the United States, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore.
Of the seven countries, Singaporeans are actually the least likely to have difficulty purchasing an item they need (33%). 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).
|Country||% unable to buy essential goods|
North Americans are struggling to buy toilet paper
Nearly one in three North Americans have been unable to buy toilet paper, suggesting that 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, 18% of people in Ireland, and just 12% of Singaporeans.
|Country||% unable to buy toilet paper|
South Africans are 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%), which is the most of any country in the study. Nearly a third of Americans reported the same (32%), followed by Canadians and Irish people (29% each). Again, Singaporeans were least likely to have trouble purchasing hand sanitiser, with just 15% of Singaporeans reporting this problem.
|Country||% unable to buy hand sanitiser|
South Africans and Filipinos struggle to buy dry food
18% of South Africans reported that they were unable to buy dry food like rice. Filipino people 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 is hardest to buy in the Philippines
Those living in the Philippines have had the most difficulty buying fresh food, with 27% reporting that 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). This is the only category where Singaporeans didn’t have the least difficulty. Ireland won that race, with just 12% of the Irish saying that they couldn’t buy fresh food, compared to 13% of Singaporeans.
|Country||% unable to buy fresh food|
South Africans are struggling the most to buy toiletries
South Africans are the most likely to be unable to buy toiletries (excluding toilet paper), at 18%. Those from the United States and the Philippines had the next most amount of trouble buying toiletries, with 14% of people in both countries saying that they were unable to find these items.
|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. Singapore had the least difficulty, with just 8% saying they couldn’t purchase medicine.
|Country||% unable to buy medicine|
Where to buy necessities online
Online shopping is a great way to find those products that are unavailable in physical stores and to help limit the community transmission of coronavirus. Here are our handy guides to where to buy products online:
This data is from a Google Survey of 1,206 Singaporean adults conducted by Finder in March 2020.