Panic buying is an interesting phenomenon which occasionally sweeps the UK, and threatens to plunge the country into a roiling nadir of despair on a semi regular basis. The term refers to when a threatened shortage or price hike for a certain item is popularized in the media, and then people start buying the item in droves in order to ensure they aren’t left out. This post will look at an example of panic buying in the UK and examine the common themes behind the situation, perhaps shedding some light into the mysterious instinct of human survival.

The Great Leggings Splurge (Winter, 2010)

We’ve all been prone to debilitating anguish when it’s cold and dreary outside, but nothing compares to the great cold snap in 2010. The Mirror published an article covering the drastic weather conditions where experts desperately pleaded with the general public for calm. And the weather was really bad – several airports had to cancel 100s of flights, schools closed down and drivers were forced to sleep in their cars on the motorway because conditions were too dangerous.


Like this, but with 100% less stylish headwear. Source: Pixabay

There were reported difficulties with getting supplies to supermarkets, and people started to get more and more worried that things were going to run out. Sales of salt and cat litter went up significantly, as people needed to grit their streets and driveways. Soup sales went through the roof as well as people sought that perfect winter snack.


“Honey, did you say this was…cat litter and salt soup!?” Source: Pixabay

But sales went up 67% for one particular item for some strange reason – leggings. It’s as if everyone began to realise that this was a REAL winter and that going outside in your pajama pants to fetch the post just wasn’t going to cut it – things were going to get frosty.


Well, it may be Wintergeddon but that doesn’t mean I can’t look FABULOUS. Source: Pixabay

So why do people panic buy? published an interesting article looking into the human psyche behind panic buying. One theory is that we have a herd mentality – we see mobs of people rushing to stores to buy stuff and think “They must know something I don’t.” Either that, or we just want to make sure that we don’t miss out on something everyone else gets. The article then goes on to explain that this sort of behaviour is actually a human survival instinct – we don’t want to fall short when it comes to food and essentials, so we’re driven by emotion and impulses rather than logic.


“I herd ewe tended to paa-nic…”…okay, I’m sorry, please forgive me for this terrible pun and let’s pretend it never happened. Source: Pixabay

Whatever the case may be, the fact is that panic buying is a very real and observable phenomenon, and it’s entirely human. Has there been any time when you have panic bought something? Let us know in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Why do we panic buy? A look at why we splurge and purge

  1. I now avoid shopping randomly as I’m a sucker for sales (I don’t need shoes but these a all $5!!!) Instead of leading to massive savings it’s often led to nonsensical spending.
    Now, I try to shop when I need or consider what I need before going in the vicinity of a sale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, who doesn’t love a good sale? It’s funny how we tend to think – we believe we’re saving loads of money, but we’re actually spending it on stuff we wouldn’t buy in the first place.

      Good idea with being goal oriented with shopping – it’s useful to make sure you know what you want and stick to the plan. Thanks for the tip!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s