Skeletal frames of shelves sit empty, littered only by the stray package of paper towel.
COVID-19 has taken over the media and with more and more confirmed cases in Alberta everyday, many are preparing for possible self-isolation.
However, too many are taking their shopping for this pandemic too far. Bulk buying of toilet paper and disinfectant has left a depletion of resources, ones that leave the elderly and individuals living paycheck to paycheck suffering the most.
Walmart hasn’t had any hand sanitizer for sale in at least a week and the toilet paper is sold just as fast as it comes in.
A Wetaskiwin Walmart employee, who will remain anonymous for her job security, is incredibly frustrated by the panic bulk buying costumers are participating in.
“I had a senior come in and he was in tears,” she said. The toilet paper was long gone from shelves by the time he arrived. He was delayed because he had to wait for a ride, unable to afford a taxi. Anyone who is limited by the public transit system and can’t drive to their local Walmart in time for opening when the toilet paper will be freshly restocked, is impacted negatively by panic buying.
This employee is concerned for the elderly, who will face the brunt of these shortages because they don’t have the same opportunities to stock up. Yesterday pallets of toilet paper came in and they were gone by noon. The employee looks at the shelves in disgust,
“We are already sold out of toilet paper and it’s already 10a.m.,” she said, “This is embarrassing.”
Social media has been exploding with people trying to reason with one another not to go overboard on the toilet paper purchases.
I went to the local Walmart to get some bog roll, not because I'm in a COVID-19 induced toilet paper buying frenzy, but because I only have one roll left. Really, Wetaskiwin? 🤦🏼♀️ pic.twitter.com/iF1T58oso1
— Sarah O. ↙️↙️↙️ (@manic_swens) March 12, 2020
It is time for retailers to be responsible to their customers and limit quantities of items such as Lysol wipes and toilet paper per customer purchase. It is absolutely irresponsible not to do this. (Former store manager). @WalmartCanada @sobeys @costcocanada @LoblawsON pic.twitter.com/eA3RZNNQJk
— Rev. Nichola (@RevNichola) March 13, 2020
Apparently, 2 fights in an Alberta department store in one day, and people weeping because of no toilet paper. Please remeber this isn’t #pandemicfightclub and let’s not devolve. Please be more patient and caring with each other, because there’s a lot of days to #slowthecurve
— Jason J. Mudry (@JasonJMudry) March 13, 2020
Shoppers who come to buy toilet paper on a regular basis, not in bulk are also feeling the consequenses of panic buying. Not wanting to stockpile, but desperate not to have to share a single roll of toilet paper between the whole family they set to the stores— panic buying spurred by panic buying.
Wetaskiwin Walmart shopper, Lorei Meyer, 45, believes that the panic buying of toilet paper is out of control. She thinks people need to put their priorities into perspective.
“I think people are panicking when they shouldn’t be. If we run out of toilet paper it is not the worst thing in the world,” Meyer says, “running water is more important.”
Another Wetaskiwin Walmart employee, also anonymous for the same reasons as her co-worker, has seen an increase of customers to the location in the past week. “It’s foolish,” she says about the bulk buying. “One lady came and got $1,500 worth of groceries.” A luxury that some people, simply cannot afford.
Management at Wetaskiwin’s Walmart declined to answer whether the store was benefiting from coronavirus panic and the recent increase of bulk buy shoppers.
While some local businesses like Walmart have the allure of toilet paper to keep customers coming during this pandemic, others are feeling the impact as less customers trickle in— choosing to avoid crowded public spaces as recommended by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.