It has been fascinating to watch the progression of items that have become scarce or difficult to get during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hoarding of items such as bathroom tissue, soap, hand sanitizer, facial tissues, sanitizing wipes, and paper towels has been well-documented.
I choose to believe shortages on commodity items like this are due to hoarding, because I don’t want to think there are that many people who simply weren’t washing before the pandemic.
We might have been OK if people had simply purchased what they needed, but the problem is, some freaks flip out at the first sign of shortages, and I suspect there are still those who have basements or storage rooms full of these commodities.
This self-centered behavior disrupted the entire supply chain.
Other scarce items may be less obvious, but are understandable if one thinks about them.
Thermometers were hard to get for quite a while, but they seem to be back in stock now.
It’s understandable that people would want to check their own temperatures during a pandemic.
Board games and puzzles also disappeared off the shelves.
I suspect when people learned they would be spending more time at home with their families, they knew they would need diversions to keep from driving one another crazy.
The closing of gyms and health clubs led to a run on home fitness equipment.
Things from dumbbells to exercise bikes became difficult to get, according to some reports. Inexpensive bicycles were also scarce.
I find it entertaining that bake ware and yeast were in short supply.
Apparently, while some people focussed on keeping fit, others opted to ensure a steady supply of comfort food at home.
Perhaps the people who were suddenly doing all that baking felt they needed to find ways to keep fit while working from home.
I understand sewing machines also saw a spike in popularity, either because sewing was seen as a “quarantine hobby,” or because people wanted to be able to sew their own face masks.
A variety of supplies to support working at home became popular, for obvious reasons.
Another variation on the survival food theme involved gardening.
People who don’t normally plant vegetable gardens did so this year, causing shortages of seeds.
As a result of this trend, lids for canning jars have become difficult to find as amateur gardeners sought to preserve their produce.
What I want to know is what is next on the list of items that will become scarce as the result of the pandemic, not necessarily due to panic buying, but because of unusual trends in consumer behavior.
Winter is coming, and as far as I can tell, there’s no end in sight. There may even be new spikes in the number of cases of COVID-19.
So what will be the next hot commodity?
Will gas fireplaces see a rush as people prepare to hole up at home?
Will warm pajamas or union suits like Grizzly Adams used to wear become popular?
I hate to even bring this up, but what will the Christmas shopping season look like this year?
Will Shelter-in-Place Barbie and Coronavirus Ken populate store shelves, along with an assortment of stylish masks accessories?
Will portable room sterilizers be the tech gift of choice?
Will designer loungewear become popular for the fashion-conscious home-based worker?
There’s no way to predict what the next trend will be, but one thing is certain. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided ample opportunities for studying human nature.