SAN ANTONIO – When the coronavirus pandemic started, toilet paper was one of the first things to fly off store shelves.
It’s a basic necessity, relatively cheap to buy in bulk and does not have an expiration date.
But as many of us have noticed, panic buying has caused major problems in the supply chain.
Americans make up less than five percent the world’s population, but we use more toilet paper than any other country.
In 2018, data website Statista reported that on average we go through 2.7 rolls of toilet paper per week.
According to the Atlantic, global toilet paper sales were estimated at $12 billion in 2017 and Americans accounted for $5.7 billion of that total.
And last month, the Associated Press reported that toilet paper sales nationally jumped about 213% in the week ending March 14 compared to the same period a year before.
Stores have struggled to keep TP in stock with this massive demand.
Major suppliers have ramped up operations at their paper mills, but companies such as Georgia Pacific, the maker of brands like Quilted Northern and Angel Soft, have said it is uncertain when things will go back to normal.
Americans still use about the same amount of toilet paper as we did before the pandemic, but now we’re using more of our own supply.
Restaurants and schools are closed, and many people are working from home so we are not using toilet paper from other locations.
Georgia-Pacific has estimated that the average American household will use about 40 percent more toilet paper than usual if people spend all their time at home.
The problem seems to be just as bad online. Amazon, Walmart, Target and H-E-B stores have been overwhelmed with of orders.
Despite the gloom and doom surrounding toilet paper, there is some good news.
Most toilet paper sold in the United States is made at paper mills in North America, which means stores are stocked more often and there is not much disruption from companies overseas.
When the pandemic swept the globe, videos circulated online of people reportedly fighting over toilet paper in stores.
The BBC also reported armed robbers stole hundreds of toilet paper rolls in Hong Kong.
People in the US for the most part have remained patient.
There are other options if you are desperate for toilet paper. You can buy commercial-grade TP from companies that sell in bulk or supply restaurants.
You can also support San Antonio restaurants that have shifted to selling items that including toilet paper and paper towels. Mi Tierra and many others have set up pop-up shops with pantry and other household items for sale.
It might not be the softest, but with so little TP on store shelves at the moment, it’s one of the few options.
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