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From the Optimal Aging Portal: Pandemics and panic buying

Published: September 23, 2020 

The Bottom Line

  • In a crisis, people may think that they will run out of certain products and goods, which causes them to buy them in large quantities.
  • Panic buying due to fear of running out of supplies is generated by emotions and social influences, and gives people a sense of control over the situation.
  • However, panic buying causes negative effects such as supply chain disruptions, stockouts and price increases.

We have all seen images on TV, the internet and in the newspapers of entire shelves in grocery stores and other retail stores emptied from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During natural disasters and health crises, people can develop unusual behaviors, such as panic buying. Panic buying is a phenomenon that occurs when consumers buy unusually larger quantities of certain products in anticipation of a disaster or crisis (real or perceived), or in anticipation of significant price changes.

Such a phenomenon can have undesirable effects. Panic buying can lead to an actual product shortage. It can limit or prevent the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and low-income individuals, from accessing certain products. Panic buying can also exacerbate fears and uncertainties about the disaster or crisis (real or perceived).

But why do people experience this shopping fever during crises?

​Read the full article here. 

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (, a unique online health resource created by McMaster University to support the healthy aging of Canada’s older adult population, is highlighting ways to stay active and engaged while practicing physical distancing during the current COVID-19 pandemic.​ Read more.


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