Panic buying (alternatively rendered as panic-buying) occurs when consumers buy 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.
Panic buying is a type of herd behavior. It is of interest in consumer behavior theory, the broad field of economic study dealing with explanations for "collective action such as fads and fashions, stock market movements, runs on nondurable goods, buying sprees, hoarding, and banking panics."
Panic-buying began to receive widespread attention in early 2020 during the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many stores around the world were depleted of items such as toilet paper, foodstuff, hygiene products and other goods.
Panic buying occurred before, during, or following these incidents:
- 1922–1923 German hyperinflation
- 1943 Bengal famine
- 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis – led to panic buying of canned foods in the United States
- The 1979–1980 oil crisis led to panic buying of oil, led by Japan.
- Year 2000 problem – food
- 2001 - panic buying of metals, gold and oil on international commodity markets following the September 11 attacks
- In January and February 2003, during the SARS outbreak, several rounds of panic buying of various products (including salt, rice, vinegar, vegetable oil, antibiotics, masks, and traditional Chinese medicine) took place in the Chinese province of Guangdong and in neighboring areas such as Hainan and Hong Kong.
- 2000 and 2005 UK fuel protests
- 2005 Jilin chemical plant explosions – water, food
- 2008–2013 United States ammunition shortage – Panic buying by gun owners who feared tougher gun control laws under President Barack Obama was one cause of ammunition shortages.
- In September 2013 during the Venezuelan economic crisis, the Venezuelan government temporarily took over the Aragua-based Paper Manufacturing Company toilet paper plant to manage the "production, marketing and distribution" of toilet paper following months of depleted stocks of basic goods—including toilet paper—and foodstuffs, such as rice and cooking oil. Blame for the shortages was placed on "ill-conceived government policies such as price controls on basic goods and tight restrictions on foreign currency" and hoarding.
- Dakazo – Amid decreased support before the 2013 Venezuelan municipal elections, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced the military occupation of stores on 8 November 2013, proclaiming "Leave nothing on the shelves!" The announcement of lowered prices sparked looting in multiple cities across Venezuela. By the end of the Dakazo, many Venezuelan stores were left empty of their goods. A year later in November 2014, some stores still remained empty following the Dakazo.
- 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic – Panic-buying became a major international phenomenon in February and March 2020, when grocery stores around the world were depleted of items such as masks, food, bottled water, toilet paper (limited), hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol. Several politicians, including Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, criticized the act, with Morrison in particular voicing displeasure and disappointment. 
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- Collins, Nick (2009-08-25). "EU ban on traditional lightbulbs prompts panic buying". The Telegraph.
- "UK fuel blockades tumble". BBC News. 2000-09-14. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
- "Toxic leak threat to Chinese city". BBC News. 2005-11-23.
- Danielle Kurtzleben, Here's why the ammunition shortage went on for years, Vox (1 July 2014).
- Stephanie Clifford, Shop Owners Report Rise in Firearm Sales as Buyers Fear Possible New Laws, New York Times (22 December 2012).
- Brochetto, Marilia; Botelho, Greg (2013-09-12). "Facing shortages, Venezuela takes over toilet paper factory". CNN. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- Lezama Aranguren, Erick (2014-11-09). "La resaca del "dakazo", un año después". El Tiempo. Archived from the original on 2014-11-12. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
- "Watch: Looting in Venezuela after government launches attack on 'bourgeois parasites'". EuroNews. 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
- What everyone's getting wrong about the toilet paper shortage Medium
- Sirletti, Sonia; Remondini, Chiara; Lepido, Daniele (2020-02-24). "Virus Outbreak Drives Italians to Panic-Buying of Masks and Food". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2020-02-29.
- "The economics of the toilet paper panic—and why more stockpiling is inevitable". Macleans. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- "Virus panic buying prompts toilet paper rationing in Australia". CTVNews. 2020-03-04. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- "Coles and Woolworths further limit toilet paper purchases as supply sells out in an hour". smh.com.au. Sydney Morning Herald. 2020-03-08. Retrieved 2020-03-11.
- "'It's crazy': Panic buying forces stores to limit purchases of toilet paper and masks". CNN. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- "'It's un-Australian, and it must stop': Scott Morrison tells Australians to cease panic buying". SBS News. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
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