The Psychology Behind Panic Buying When in a Crisis

Throughout the past two weeks of the United States declaring a national emergency, grocery stores have been experiencing ‘panic buying’ — the action of consumers buying unusually large amounts of products just before or after a disaster. Consumers are preparing for not just days of quarantining but for possibly weeks or months.

According to the article, “There’s Psychology Behind the Foods We Don’t Buy in a Crisis” by the Counter, the foods consumers are buying right now are “raw ingredients-like produce, meat, beans, and grains-over prepared foods and snacks.” Being creative with cooking and eating well gives people things to do while bunkering at home. Working remotely, employees don’t have the urgency to get home during rush-hour and make an easy meal. Making well-cooked healthy meals is time-consuming, but it’s cost-effective since, generally, many of the frozen and prepared foods are more expensive. Additionally, individuals are leaning towards healthier eating because they can’t go out and exercise as much. 

Julia Sklar, the writer of the article, interviewed Deborah Small, a psychologist who studies consumer judgment and human decision making at the University of Pennsylvania. She states that it will be hard to predict people’s behaviors. But still, hopefully, throughout this period, individuals “can maintain a steady-state of life for a few weeks” since they won’t be as anxious.  

Hopefully, as consumers, we will adapt, we won’t buy based on panic, and we will learn to be more strategic with what we need to make it through.  

To read more, click the article here

Thank you,
Content Team

Photo by Steve Debenport. 

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