A sign at a Lynnwood store on Tuesday. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

A sign at a Lynnwood store on Tuesday. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Another toilet paper shortage? No, but hoarding has resumed

As COVID cases spike, so does demand for TP. Stores usually have a supply, but take only what you need.

LYNNWOOD — The hottest new holiday buying craze comes in packs of 12 rolls.

What’s up with that?

With COVID-19 cases spiking, shoppers are seeing empty shelves and restrictions on the purchase of toilet paper.

Don’t worry, the grocery industry has your backside covered.

There isn’t a scarcity.

“As an industry as a whole we have not seen a great deal of shortages like we did back when all of this started in March and April,” said Holly Chisa, a spokesperson for Northwest Grocery Association, which represents Fred Meyer, QFC, Safeway and other supermarkets in the region.

“That is in large part because our customers have chosen to take only what they need and leave the rest for their neighbors and friends. If folks continue to do that, we’re going to be just fine.”

The problem is hoarding.

When coronavirus cases increase, so does anxiety. Cases this week greatly surpassed previous record highs in Snohomish County and statewide. People stockpile in fear of a lockdown or wanting to make fewer trips to the store.

Granted, one thing you don’t want to run out of is toilet paper.

With people working from home, they use more of it on their own porcelain thrones instead of flushing on the company’s dime.

At one point on Tuesday, those swarming the paper roll aisle of the Lynnwood Costco left without their fix. The store was out of toilet paper and paper towels. Despite frequent shipments, the mounds of paper disappear fast, even with a limit of one per customer.

But a check of other shelves around Snohomish County showed there are enough squares for all behinds.

The Alderwood Target store was amply stocked, with signs limiting quantity to one per shopper for toilet tissue and paper towels. The Rite Aid in Mukilteo had enough to TP the town.

According to www.toiletpaperhistory.net, a person uses about 60 sheets of toilet paper a day, with eight to nine sheets of paper per toilet use. The site says the average American uses 100 standard rolls of 200 to 250 sheets, which would equate to about 50 rolls of Costco’s Kirkland brand with 425 sheets per roll.

The pandemic led to stores doing a supply shuffle, especially in the early months.

“There have been different shortages of different products,” Chisa said.

One day it was bottled water, the next it was rice. There’s always been plenty of cannabis and chocolate.

Remember how hard it was to find yeast?

Next up is the true season of panic buying: getting the hot toy for Christmas, whatever that is.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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