Toilet roll was one of the main items that sold out in supermarkets due to panic buying in March © Getty Images
Toilet roll was one of the main items that sold out in supermarkets due to panic buying in March © Getty Images

100m toilet rolls ‘on standby’ in case of panic buying

posted by Charlie Hart
3 November 2020

Andrex maker Kimberly-Clark has announced it has 100m toilet rolls “on standby” to limit the impact of panic buying ahead of the second lockdown in England. 

The company has moved to reassure customers rolls are being held in UK warehouses and it is “prepped for stockpiling”, according to the BBC.

“Even back in March, when supermarket orders more than doubled overnight (from 60 to 132 orders per day), supplies of Andrex never ran out,” Kimberly-Clark said.

The firm’s comments came after it was announced there would be a four-week lockdown in England with an aim of limiting the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown will come into effect from Thursday 5 November and last until Wednesday 2 December, though there is uncertainty about the end date. 

Toilet paper was one of the main items that sold out in many supermarkets due to panic buying when the UK went into its first lockdown in March. 

Ahead of the two-week “firebreak” lockdown in Wales, which is in place until Monday 9 November, manufacturer Wepa UK told the BBC production of toilet paper and kitchen roll had increased by 23% at its plant in Maesteg, Bridgend. 

Mike Docker, joint managing director, said: “We have learnt lessons from the spring – if panic buying does happen extensively again, it will not have the same effect on supply as it did in March, as the industry is much more prepared now than it was six months ago.” 

He added that extra hauliers were on standby and production had shifted to focus on plain tissues and large packs to reflect the demand seen in the first lockdown.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, urged customers to be considerate of others and “shop as they normally would”.

He said: “Retailers have done an excellent job in ensuring customers have access to food and necessities throughout this pandemic.

“Since March, retail businesses have strengthened their supply chains as well as investing hundreds of millions to make stores safe and secure for customers. This includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures. As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under future lockdowns.

“Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under any future lockdown. Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.”

In September, supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons brought in limits on products including toilet roll to manage the impact of panic buying.

Earlier this year, procurement professionals were urged to make supply chain decisions based on resilience to manage the impact of coronavirus panic buying. 

Rationing has also been recommended as a potential solution to panic buying in future, according to a study by Durham University Business School.

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