COVID-19 Diary – 25th March – Panic Buying

25/3/20

I wrote yesterday about how there was still some semblance of normality at home, but my trip to the supermarket yesterday didn’t feel normal at all. The roads were eerily quiet, especially given it was 9am on a weekday, when there would usually be a steady stream of traffic down the main road. It was weirdly tempting to go for a long drive, and I hate driving. Just being out of the house felt strange. It had only been three days since I had been off our property, but it felt more like three weeks, how quickly I had adapted to our new, smaller world.

The supermarket itself was surprisingly quiet, given it is one of the only places that people can now go. I was relieved that the shelves were fairly well stocked, and even though some items were still severely lacking, there was no danger of me not being able to find enough food to feed my family, which was starting to seem like a possibility a little while back. I’m lucky that I have never really had to worry about where the next meal is coming from, even as a poor student, even during a couple of brief periods of unemployment in my Twenties.

We’re so used to being able to buy whatever we want, whenever we want, that it comes as a real shock when, for example, there just suddenly isn’t any pasta. Put it this way, I’ve been thinking a lot about capitalism, but that long rambling essay will have to wait for another day. There’s been a lot of talk of panic buying, but the empty supermarket shelves have more been the result of everyone buying a bit more than usual and the fragile food supply chain in our country than people hoarding huge amounts of food.

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Have I been panic-buying? Well, our freezer and cupboards are certainly a bit fuller than usual, but the giant pack of kitchen rolls is just because they were the only ones they had, honest. I’ve certainly been a lot more stressed when food shopping the last couple of weeks, and when I was grabbing the last two dented tins of Amy’s Kitchen chilli from the shelves of Asda it felt like a slightly panicky act. I don’t think I’ve gone too over the top though, and now we’re trying to have just one supermarket shop a week, where we buy the food we need for the week and not more. If we all do the same there should be another to go round.

In the evening I went out to the local corner shop to try and find washing-up liquid, which felt like a supremely illicit act, given I had already been out once that day. There was not a soul around, apart from one startled jogger. Turns out the corner shop has everything that everyone has been struggling to buy at the supermarket, bread, pasta, washing-up liquid, even toilet roll. I wonder if this is the same in corner shops all over the land? I may or may not be panic-buying, but it’s good to have a back up plan.

 

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