Panic buying is the act of people buying unusually large amounts of a product in anticipation of or after a disaster or perceived disaster, or in anticipation of a large price increase or shortage, as can occur before a blizzard or hurricane or government decree banning a particular popular product such as incandescent light bulbs. These goods are bought in large amounts to offset a potential shortage or as an act of safety. While panic buying can result in a sudden increase in the cost of goods, it is distinct from looting as it does not entail theft or deliberate property damage.
Panic buying occurred before, during or following the:
- 1943 Bengal famine
- 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis – panic buying of canned foods
- 1973 oil crisis – panic buying of fuel
- Year 2000 problem – food
- 2000 and 2005 UK fuel protests
- 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, especially Hurricane Katrina – fuel, food and other supplies
- 2005 Jilin chemical plant explosions in China – water, food
- 2005 Buncefield fire
- 2008 global rice shortage
- 2008 Election/firearms panic buying – The 2008 election of Barack Obama triggered a massive panic buying movement that swept the industry over. Rifles that were perceived at risk of being banned doubled in price and many were unobtainable.
- 2009 Incandescent light bulbs bought ahead of bans imposed by many governments (Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs)
- 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami
- 2012 Proposed UK oil tanker drivers strike
- 2012- Ammunition in the United States after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
Therefore, emergency planners advise that people should maintain a stockpile or pantry list at all times. This advice is intended to avoid excessive or last-minute purchases, which can put a strain on supply in times of shortages.
- Archibald Percival Wavell (1973). Moon, Penderel, ed. Wavell: The Viceroy's Journal. Oxford University Press. p. 34.
- Alice L. George (2003). Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. The University of North Carolina Press. p. 78. ISBN 0807828289.
- Lohr, Steve (January 1, 2000). "Technology and 2000 – Momentous Relief; Computers Prevail in First Hours of '00". New York Times.
- "The Millenium Bug threatens food supply systems – developing countries are also vulnerable, FAO warns". Food and Agriculture Organization. 19 April 1999.
- Collins, Nick (25 August 2009). "EU ban on traditional lightbulbs prompts panic buying". The Telegraph.
- "UK fuel blockades tumble". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 14 September 2000. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
- "Toxic leak threat to Chinese city". BBC. 23 November 2005.
- "Massive blaze rages at fuel depot". BBC News. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- "Fire Rages After Blasts At Oil Depot". Sky News. 11 December 2005. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
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