Americans are still working through the stockpiles of toilet paper they began hoarding at the onset of the pandemic — and now sales are tanking, a new report says.
Toilet paper sales in January were 4.3 percent lower than the same month last year, before the onset of COVID-19 spurred consumers to amass rolls by the dozen, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That was followed by a 14 percent year-over-year slide in February and a 33 percent plunge in March, reflecting the explosion of panic buying that swept the nation last spring, the paper reported Wednesday, citing data from NielsenIQ.
While Americans are largely still working and studying from home like they were a year ago, some now appear to have excess supplies of toilet paper that they’re waiting to burn through before getting more, according to the report.
“They just kept amassing,” Marjorie Greenburgh of New Rochelle, New York, told the Journal, noting that she has 54 rolls stashed around her house.
“I’m not planning on buying for a while,” she reportedly said.
Things have also changed for manufacturers — papermaking mills are now operating at 90 to 95 percent capacity after running at 100 percent for most of last year, the Journal reports.
But consumers are reportedly continuing to buy up other sanitizing staples. Paper towel sales jumped 10 percent from a year before in January and household cleaner sales were up 75 percent, the report says.
Unlike hand sanitizer makers, toilet paper producers couldn’t easily expand capacity during the pandemic-fueled demand surge because doing so is expensive and time-consuming, the Journal reported.
The rolls used in public bathrooms — which mostly emptied out amid the pandemic — didn’t shore up supplies in stores as they’re made in different plants and move through a different supply chain, according to the paper.
“Tissue is just one of those things that has really demonstrated the impact of the pandemic more than others,” Fastmarkets RISI analyst Jonathan Rager told the Journal.