Boris is right… Don’t panic buy, but do plan your shopping to reduce the chance of infection by up to 99%
Dr Jon Seaton is an economist and is an expert in business and consumer behaviour. Here he explains why panic buying is bad... but infrequent shopping is essential for minimising the risk of catching coronavirus.
Boris Johnson’s three-week lockdown will create an alien world outside – and quite possibly inside – our homes, but with the number of coronavirus cases continuing to rise it appears a drastic necessity, writes 西顿博士.
In a ‘wartime’ address to the nation last night, the Prime Minister told people, “You must stay at home…” unless:
The Prime Minister’s instructions are founded in logic – especially when it comes to reducing your trips to the shops.
From an economist’s point-of-view, there are significant benefits to some forms of bulk buying which can be socially optimal and also beneficial for retailers.
These come from three key sources – fewer transactions, clearer economic signals about basic economic wants and most importantly greater national food capacity.
This does not, however, cover panic buying where whole families rush from one store to another every day grabbing haphazardly any item that comes to hand.
This could reduce the chance of infection by taking one trip a week for one person (1x1x1), instead of a family of four people each taking a shopping trip a day for 7 days = 4x4x7=112, i.e. 你的家庭由99％减少感染的机会。
To start off with a one-stop-shop say each week is safer – given the virus transmission mechanism – than small basket everyday shopping.
It means fewer people in store at any given time and fewer trips, less queueing, therefore less contact and more chance for shopkeepers to cleanse the store each day.
It may be better to have a ration policy based on a one-stop shop, rather than simply limiting items to one or two per person.
So, fewer transactions mean much less human contact by staying at home for longer periods.
This cuts cost, improves speed and most of all uses the aggregate patterns of consumer behaviour to meet customers demand for both basic and key specialist products.
Another societal gain from bulk shopping is that we would have, collectively, much more food and other items that communities can rely on if they need to look after the sick, elderly and infirm.
The bulk buying idea is again optimal if the retailers can simultaneously refill their depots and retail outlets, allowing greater total supply across the nation.
Should supply chains eventually freeze up, then household food depots could be a vital resource for the local community.
But this kind of consumer behaviour is new to almost all of us and it’ll take a while before the hysteria settles.