CHICAGO (CBS) — Many weeks into the coronavirus crisis and the toilet paper shortage shows no signs of letting up.
It’s a type of situation that needs a whole lot of toilet paper, which seems to constantly be missing in stores; and, unless you can wait, often unavailable online.
Eric Abercrombie, spokesman for Angel Soft manufacturer Georgia-Pacific, tried to explain why demand is still so high, so many weeks after the start of the pandemic.
“Obviously people need to be, you know, in at the house. They need to stay at home,” he said.
So people are using much more retail bath tissue at home, rather than taking care of their business at work, where a whole different kind of toilet paper is used.
Georgia-Pacific already made retail toilet paper 24/7 before the virus outbreak, but upped the ante a few weeks ago in response to the increased demand.
“We’ve got production facilities breaking records. We’re actually producing 1.5 million more rolls a day,” he said.
Abercrombie said he can’t predict when the supply chain will fully catch up.
“That’s speculation,” he said.
Krishnakumar “KK” Davey, head of strategic analytics for IRI Worldwide, might have more of a crystal ball.
“We are seeing, you know, roughly a 25 to 30 percent increase in actual consumption,” he said.
So more toilet paper usage, but an even higher increase in purchases; approximately 40% more sales than normal right now, after a triple digit spike in March.
“They see toilet paper, they immediately buy it,” Davey said.
Davey said consumers continue to be risk-averse, because of so many shops being out of stock.
“Until that out of stock situation settles down, I think the demand will continue,” he said.
We found some websites, like Walgreens, let shoppers virtually check shelves at their local stores.
So we took our chances. The exact product we checked wasn’t actually there, but another one was.
Abercrombie suggested asking the manager at your go-to store when shipments come in, and try to time out your trip.
Some manufacturers are also starting to offer the option to order directly from the brand’s website, but they still face stocking issues.