“I think most people are buying for the sake of buying. They get into panic-buying mode, just like those in Singapore and Hong Kong,” said a housewife, who only wished to be known as Hing.
“My friends called me on Tuesday night to inform me that toilet rolls were sold out in many supermarkets,” she said.
Hing, who was among those spotted buying toilet paper at a hypermarket in Bayan Lepas, maintained that she was doing so as she had run out of the item.
At another supermarket in Bayan Baru, housewife Lynn Ooi was disappointed to find that toilet rolls had been wiped clean from the shelves.
“I came to restock some of my daily essentials at home such as toilet rolls and dried food.
“These are items that we use daily, so I thought that it would be better to stock up in times like these,” said Ooi, 56.
Ooi, however, said she was not worried about the situation in Penang.
“I believe the situation is still under control. Many people got anxious when they see online postings about panic buying. So, they would buy a lot of goods that are not needed,” she said.
A check by The Star yesterday found that toilet rolls were sold out at Sunshine Square in Bayan Baru and Tesco Penang in Jalan Tengku Kudin, while other major supermarkets are said to be running low on the products.
State health director Dr Asmayani Khalib advised Penangites to stay calm following the first confirmed case reported in the state – an engineer at Motorola in Bayan Lepas.
It is understood that the man was in contact with a Covid-19 patient in Kuala Lumpur recently.Sunshine Wholesale Mart Sdn Bhd marketing communications manager Bryan Wong said there was a surge in toilet paper sales on Tuesday night after the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Penang.“Most people were stocking up on toilet paper, instant noodles, hand sanitisers, pasta and frozen food.
“We had just restocked on Sunday and it was all gone by Tuesday night,” he said.
Wong gave the assurance that stock was still adequate as delivery from suppliers were ongoing as usual.
“As most of the items are locally produced, our suppliers assured us that there are no shortages.
“We had taken immediate action by limiting customers to two packs of toilet paper per person. If the situation does not improve, we may reduce to selling one pack to each customer,” he said.
Pantai Hospital Penang clinical psychologist Dr Yeoh Si Han described the shopping frenzy as a contagion effect.
“We wouldn’t want to run out of toilet paper as it provides a sense of comfort in difficult situations,” she said.
Dr Yeoh noted that people were also stocking up on food.
“They panic because of the uncertainty and a possibility of a city lockdown, and they stock up as it gives them a sense of control,” she said.