According to an article in Medium, toilet paper isn’t selling out because the supply chain is collapsing, or because people are hoarding.
We’re using more toilet paper at home.
Yes, some people are hoarding, but we’re all spending a lot more time at home.
All the toilet paper we would have used at work, in school, in malls, at restaurants or in theaters is still there, not being used.
Businesses buy their toilet paper in bulk. It’s not packaged for the home market. It doesn’t come shrink-wrapped in bundles of 12 or 24, with a barcode and a recognizable logo or mascot.
The production pipeline just isn’t designed for fluctuating need. The factories are already designed to work at peak capacity to meet what is usually a perfectly constant demand. Producers can’t just bring in a second shift or pivot from making wrapping paper to making toilet paper.
It’s all happening, of course, against the backdrop of a pandemic that makes it hard enough for these producers to keep up business as usual, let alone remold their operations to keep up with radical shifts in demand.
If there’s any good news, it’s that we can stop blaming these shortages on the alleged idiocy of our fellow consumers. “I’m absolutely convinced that very little was triggered by hoarding,” Luke said. Even a modest, reasonable amount of stocking up by millions of people in preparation for stay-at-home orders would have been enough to deplete many store shelves. From there, the ripple effects of availability concerns, coupled with a genuine increase in demand due to people staying in, are sufficient to explain the ongoing supply problems. –Will Oremus, Medium