The Psychology of Panic Buying – Forbes Health


Believe it or not, panic buying is not a completely negative behavior, but the positives are often outweighed by the damage hoarding can inflict on the market and your bottom line.

“We’ve already seen the negative impact of panic buying on the supply chain…whether it’s paper towels for convenience or infant formula for survival, spikes in demand as stocks are disappearing,” says Colameta. “The consumer often sees a price increase that may never normalize due to unbalanced buying behaviors affecting the typical consumer trend.”

If there are enough panicked shoppers, it can become a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” says Dr Liersch, leading to real shortages and price increases that might not have happened if people had simply bought “normally”.

That being said, sometimes prices drop and supply will catch up – and the flow will leave the shopper panicked having spent more on items they didn’t need in bulk after all. “To that end, if you’re on a budget, panic buying can prevent you from having enough money for other items you might need,” says Dr. Liersch.

Panic buying by a specific group of people can lead to the exclusion of larger groups. For example, studies show that wealthy people are more likely to panic buy because they are better equipped financially to afford it.

So what are the positives? According to the findings of Frontiers in public health. However, if too many people are trying to feel better by panic buying, it can contribute to the scarcity they feared was happening in the first place.

“Panic buying can [also] will teach you a lot about your own buying habits,” says Colameta. “It helps you learn more about what you might not need the next time the urge to buy in bulk hits you.”

And if you go too far, try to split your luck. “One of the benefits of successful panic buying is that you’ll feel good about sharing your excess loot with friends,” says Colameta. In fact, studies show that people who share because they want to, not because they need to find even more joy in giving.


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