Shopping in Christchurch on March 22, 2020 Panic buying looks bad, but only a few shoppers were actually selfish.

Joseph Johnson / stuff / stuff

Shopping in Christchurch on March 22, 2020. Panic buying looks bad, but only a few shoppers were actually selfish.

Panic buying as the Level 4 lockdown loomed in March 2020 was described as manic at the time. But it was pretty much like the pre-Christmas shopping rushes we’ve seen in recent years, according to a new study.

Plus, panic buying is probably a very humane coping mechanism that shouldn’t necessarily be condemned, say the authors.

The authors analyzed retail spending in Christchurch from the start of 2017 to the end of 2020. Daily purchases made from around mid-March 2020 – before the Tier 4 announcement – until March 26 – the day where level 4 was implemented were particularly interesting.

And that pre-lockdown spending was lower, or about the same, than spending seen in the days leading up to Christmas in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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Granted, there was a rush to buy, but “the actual spending was not extraordinary,” said Dr Michael Hall, of the Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Canterbury.

Indeed, the biggest spending spree seen in the data came in the days leading up to last Christmas, with the country at Level 1, the researchers found.

In fact, panic shopping in Greater Christchurch before Level 4 was only slightly greater than the spending rush seen at Easter in recent years. Christmas and Easter both present shopping sprees before mandatory store closings on public holidays.

Regarding the psychology of spending, the authors concluded that “humans tend to protect themselves during times of uncertainty.”

Citing other academics in this burgeoning subfield, they said that panic buying “allows individuals to feel that they have exercised some control when the environment around them is chaotic and they are in control. believe that the associated risks are uncontrollable, fatal or have catastrophic potential for themselves “.

Hoarding and storing food “represents an attempt to take control of a chaotic situation, to reduce fear and insecurity, and therefore represents a coping mechanism for individuals.”

Only a few buyers were selfish, and they were probably meeting their psychological needs as best they could, Hall said in an interview.

While it was tempting to suggest that the Christchurch experience could be generalized nationwide, Hall and his colleagues questioned whether the Cantabrians’ previous experience with earthquakes had made them “more experienced in the management of disasters and their consequences ”and therefore more likely to obtain supplies than other Kiwis.

The authors also reported a wave of panic buying from mid-August 2020, when Auckland returned to level 3 and the rest of the country to level 2. ”the authors noted. Hall wondered if this was a “sign of greater preparation” in the southern city.

The lockdowns have been a huge natural world experience. At the same time, millions of people, from many countries and cultures, have locked themselves in response to the same crisis.

It turns out that panic buying has been observed in China, Germany and Canada and likely more academic studies from other countries will be published. The media showed that the panic buying of toilet paper in particular had occurred in the United States, Ireland, Taiwan, Australia and elsewhere.

Hall and his colleagues in Canterbury, Lincoln and Australia used Eftpos and credit card data collected by Verisk NZ, which tracks what consumers do with their money.

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