Store shelves have been stripped of bare necessities by customers amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Items ranging from boxed/canned goods, hand sanitizer and toilet papers are scarce due to high demand during this pandemic. While some believe that buying in bulk would be a smart move to practice self-quarantine, others disagree, claiming that it is selfish. 

Tyler Francoeur, a warehouse selector at Hannaford Distribution Center in Portland, Maine admits that he practices buying in bulk for certain items when he shops for groceries. “I work at the distribution center, I see what happens behind the scene,” he said. Francoeur explained that the distribution center is facing shortage of products in their storage. “High demand, low supply; we can’t keep up and there is nothing we can do about it,” he added. 

Like any other shoppers, Francoeur struggles when it comes to finding necessities. “I buy in bulk because it is cheaper in the long run. It is a smart idea if you don’t overdo it,” he said. He believes that grocery shoppers should only buy necessities to last them for three weeks, anything more is just being inconsiderate. 

Kate Moore, a Kennebunk shopper, said her family is focusing on only buying items they need and not what they want during this pandemic. “We make a [grocery] list to stay on track and not buy unnecessary things,” she said. Moore explained that price is the biggest factor for her family when buying groceries. “We try to be strategic about what to buy and when,” she added.  

“One of the biggest transitions for my family is buying products of different brands and substituting certain products with others,” she said.  Despite that, Moore believes that buying in bulk can be a good practice if done correctly. “You can save money and it is really useful for items that you use frequently,” said Moore. She added, “It is also great to save time because you do not have to go shopping as often.”  

On the other hand, buying in bulk has been a regular practice for Kennebunk natives, Gabriella Kudas and her family. “My family loves to buy in bulk because we are a family of six,” she explained. Kudas said her family does not make any list when they grocery shop and they buy in bulk because it is cheaper that way.  

Kudas said that this pandemic has taken a toll on her family. “We are limited to the amount of food at this time because of the scarcity; it is difficult because of how large my family is,” she added. Moreover, the increase of price for high demand products have made it harder for this family of six to shop for their needs without being price sensitive. 

According to the market intelligence company Numerator, “9 in 10 consumers have changed their shopping behavior as a result of the coronavirus.” Kailee Lazaros, a student at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) who resides in Hudson, Massachusetts, said her family has shifted from their traditional shopping habit to buying only what they need. 

“My family does not believe in bulk buy,” said Lazaros. She explained that daily necessities such as paper plates and paper towels have been bought by her family in bulk before but not anymore. “We make a [grocery] list and only go to the store if we need a lot of items,” she said.  

Lazaros added that her family’s biggest issue is buying high demand products such as meats and frozen foods. “Some people choose to buy in bulk and others, like my family just buy what we need in the right quantity,” she said.