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.
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.
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.
So why do people panic buy? Time.com 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.
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.