Roll of Shame: Virginians Among Most Guilty of Panic Buying During Pandemic 

  • Online searches for ‘toilet paper’ increased 5,441% (YOY) among Virginians.
  • Arizonans were the most guilty of panic buying during the pandemic.  
  • Infographic showing panic Google search data in each state.

Back in 2020, the humble, yet indispensable household consumable, toilet paper, became somewhat of an icon of mass panic during the pandemic. People across the country scrambled to single-ply – er, sorry, singlehandedly – stockpile as many rolls as possible from any source; and by any means necessary… A San Francisco store even saw the outbreak of a fight between shoppers during the panic, resulting in bottles being smashed to the floor.

The media and public figures at the time were quick to condemn such behavior, pointing out that such acts were both selfish and unnecessary. And now, two years on with the benefit of data, we can accurately determine where people were most guilty of panic buying during the pandemic…

Cherry Digital, a leading performance public relations & content marketing agency, conducted an analysis of Google search data for the words ‘toilet paper’ over March 2020 (the height of the panic buying period), and compared this to March 2019. They identified that the biggest panic buyers in the country resided in… Arizona. Online searches by residents of the Grand Canyon State increased by a whopping 1,115% compared to the previous year!

Virginians emerged in 12th place in the ‘Roll of Shame’, placing them among the most guilty of panic buying at the start of the pandemic. Online searches for toilet paper here increased by 5,441% (YOY).

[For data on individual cities and towns across Virginians, please contact us on the details below]

It can also be revealed that the good people of Alaska were comparatively saintly (although not completely guilt-free), as their online searches for toilet paper ‘only’ increased by 1,234%. 

A closer look at the data…

The top 5 biggest panic buying states:

1. Arizona (1,115%).

2. California (9,710%).

3. Colorado (7,715%).

4. Florida (7,164%).

5. Idaho (6,361%).

The bottom 5 panic buying states:

50. Alaska (1,234%).

49. South Dakota (2,213%).

48. Delaware (2,238%).

47. Vermont (2,523%).

46. North Dakota (2,643%)

Infographic showing panic buying data in each state

‘Hoarding items such as toilet paper happened all over the world, and not just in America, so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much over it,’ explains Jamie Gibbs, Content Marketing Director at Cherry Digital. ‘Societies generally function because there is confidence and trust in the system. The pandemic marked an anxious time for many people, and therefore that very trust began to erode at an alarming speed, which explains why panic buying took place. Despite appearing to be an irrational thing to do, hoarding everyday items was actually a predictable human action.’

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