Panic Buying Survey Report by Roleigh Martin : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Roleigh Martin has put out a "Panic Buying Survey Report" on the kinds of items people buy in stores when something like severe weather is about to hit a community. Some of the most popular items include water, bread, flashlights and batteries, lunch meats, milk, toilet paper and eggs.

-- Kevin (, January 20, 1999


I tried to include the link but it didn't work. Here it is again...

-- Kevin (, January 20, 1999.

Thanks Kevin, interesting report to say the least. Hopefully, more similar survey will be done by others to compare facts. If they support each other, then the pressure/worries on us stockpilers should be relieved, but at the same time, to me at least, it adds greatly to my worry of what will happen during the roll-over.

The site requires free registering, so I'll post the entire article here for those reluctant to register. I strongly recommend you register, Roleigh Martin is an excellent source of expert views.--Chris

>Panic Buying Survey Report: (by Roleigh Martin) > > >Here is what "panic buyers" buy in order of preference: > >First Store surveyed> 1. Bread 2. Water 3. Lunch meats 4. Toilet >paper 5. Flash lights and batteries > >Second Store surveyed> 1. Water 2. Bread 3. Milk 4. Eggs 5. >Flashlights and batteries > > >Primary Finding: People do not shop in preparation for a disaster until >the disaster has unmistakably started -- when the snow starts falling, >the hurricane is less than a half day away, or the river is already over >it's banks and the temperature on the melting snow covered mountains is >high. > >note: We have our work cut out for us as far as trying to convince our >family and friends to prepare more than a day in advance. By knowing >this we can take more solace in the results we do get. > >ALL food store managers surveyed agreed that never under any condition >has the general public purchased food more than a few hours ahead of an >expected emergency no matter how bad the disaster was promised to be. > >Another remarkable discovery is that even with devastation promised most >folks only buy enough for an extra day or two. Most people get 10 items >or less and go through the express lanes. The non express lanes still >only have about 10 to 20 items for each person. After the emergency is >over there is an equal amount of buying as people replenish what they >used. > >The warehouse suppliers of both stores send in several extra pallets of >water and several extra truck loads of bread in anticipation of the >strong buying, based upon prediction of disaster, but only the night >before. > >They all agreed that Bread and Water or Water and Bread where the two >major items they only disagreed slightly on which was more prevalent. > >Here is the background survey data. This is a beach community that is >hit by heavy storms on average once a year. We have two big grocery >stores and five smaller ones to supply a static population of about >40,000 locals. These same stores also provide for our summer resort >population of about 250,000 by staying open 24 hours a day seven days a >week in season. We have Sam's Clubs and Walmarts and Big Kmarts within >40 minutes in any direction but these stores surveyed are competitive in >price. > >I suggest you do a similar survey in your area. ALL these people agreed >that NO MATTER the degree of predictability, expected devastation or >expected duration of the predicted disasters -- that the buying habits >of the public are unchanged since the 60's, in any geographical location >in our country nor by the type of disaster nor by the the reason for the >panic buying. > >Here is what I did and what I found: > >I went to the two Super Stores -- Super Fresh and Food Lion. I spoke to >4 managers. One with 30 years in retail groceries one with over 20 and >two with 10 years each. All of them had worked in numerous stores >except one who had only worked in the one store her entire 10 years. > >I interviewed them about 25 minutes each to help me understand panic >buying and preparation buying. > >Two managers had experience in snow country; Valley Forge Pa., western >Pa., and western Virginia. Two had experience in metropolitan >Philadelphia. Two had experience in metropolitan Washington D.C. and >three had experience in metropolitan Baltimore. One had experience for >12 years in the mid-western states where at times they got several >"yards" of snow. One had 15 years experience in numerous places in >California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Ohio where he had been regional >step-in manager for any stores in the area where a manager would get >sick, die, etc. All of them had worked a few years in smaller stores >and then worked up to these bigger stores. One had started out in his >own grocery with just him and his wife then sold it and gone to work for >the big stores. > >One store has 12 check-out registers and 32,000 square feet of retail >space. The other has 10 registers and about 26,000 square feet of >shopping floor. Each of them has a deli, bakery, and extensive fresh >fruit and vegetable section with two full isles of frozen foods in each >store. They are very similar and very competitive. The main difference >is that one has only 30 minutes of battery back up for it's registers >and the other has a generator with over a days fuel to run the >registers. > >Even the one that had stayed open during our 5 day storm of Feb. '98 had >seen no obnoxious behavior to speak of from buyers who couldn't get what >they wanted. During that storm we relocated about 30,000 people and >FEMA had a Disaster Field Center set up here for two months. The storm >and it's ferocity were predicted exactly and there was a two day relief >between a two day storm part one and a three day storm part two. Buying >habits of the populace did not depart in any way from the norm as >written here. > >On another occasion this area had a predicted winter ice storm. In some >areas we had no electricity for 10 weeks while waiting for poles to be >cut and transported and erected. Buying habits did not change. > >We can expect the general population to buy and plan for y2k on New >Years Eve Day 1999 and we can expect them to buy two extra loafs of >bread each and two or three extra gallons of water 2 batteries and a >flashlight. > >Oh and more thing; one manager said they sell 50% more frozen dinners >per shopping dollar than normal in preparation of a possible power >outage -- when I called the other managers back they laughingly agreed. > >We have much to do...

-- Chris (, January 20, 1999.

arrrghhh! sorry, forgot that cut/pasting doesn't keep paragraph formatting.

-- Chris (, January 20, 1999.

Water? Doesn't it come out of your tap? All you need is something to store it in. In truly dire straights a bathtub would do. Jars & bottles are better; doesn't everyone have at least some in their homes? Unless your tap water is already contaminated or cut off, I don't see why anyone needs to buy bottled water.

-- drink it (, January 20, 1999.

drink it,

You have to remember this is a survey on what people buy when an emergency suddenly appears. It may or not not apply to Y2K buying.

What I learned from this report is that batteries may be good barter items too. I'm already buying a little extra toilet paper each week for barter.

-- Kevin (, January 20, 1999.


Thankyou for a very infomative report. My hat is off to your efforts and to a very extensive research in this area. Human nature is so fastinating to observe. I think those who are already stocking up or have been in the past are the true believers. There will be a few climb aboard but not that many. Of course the number of believers could climb once a devistating forecast becomes a reality. People have to see it happen sometimes but then there are a lot that will just keep doing what they always have.

Batteries might be a good bartering tool but lets think outsdie the box for a moment. People actually want light and a flashlight is handy. However, I can see value in candles and kerosine laterns as barter tools also.

What amazes me is the tv dinner thing. If there is no electric or natural gas then how do they cook there hoard of food. This has been one of the better threads on here. Thanks for sharing your valuable information!

-- Duane (, January 20, 1999.

Duane, as much as I like praises (don't we all ;-)) the thanks go to Kevin, HE is Da Link Man. I only did a bad job of pasting the entire article on this thread. But I'll take 1/100'th of the praise anyway.

I look for Kevin's posts, he always has a few interesting links each day. I'm just too busy catching up with the gossips around here to do much research before my 2-3 hours online are up ;-)

-- Chris (, January 20, 1999.

Bottled water would be good to have in case of contamination of city water supplies.

-- Moore Dinty moore (, January 21, 1999.

Used to be, when a hurricane was in the Gulf and headed to a coastal community, bread would suddenly become a dollar a loaf. That was when bread was usually .30/loaf. You could go to a store and see the manager and an assistant, frantically re-stickering battery-op radios, batteries and candles. Some communities passed laws against such gouging--but are there any anti-gouging laws in non-coastal communities? Do anti-gouging laws pertain only to weather disasters? As time advances, even if goods are available, will the law of supply and demand kick in, will prices go up beyond the means of the average person? You don't need personnel to re-sticker prices these days; all it takes is a few computer keystrokes and one label change on the shelf. All the more reason to get your supplies as soon as possible.

-- Old Git (, January 21, 1999.

My experience in hurricane county is totally different from that described. Shelves emptied in a flash. Aggressive behavior the norm. Price gouging commonplace, especially building materials, both before and after a storm. What could explain the difference?

MoVe Immediate.

-- MVI (, January 21, 1999.



-- Chuck, night driver (, January 21, 1999.

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