Toilet paper, tobacco and weapons: What do people buy during coronavirus hysteria?

Author : Helsingin Sanomat

Source : Helsingin Sanomat

Because of the lockdown Americans stock up on weapons, Germans buy a lot of pasta, and Russians try to make reserves of pickles
23:24, 26 March 2020

112 Agency

Now, during the coronavirus epidemic, masks and antiseptics are being sold all over the world. Finns discuss mass buying of toilet paper. They even found an explanation for this phenomenon.

However, Finland is not the only country in which demand for certain goods increased. Helsingin Sanomat gathered information on the most popular purchases in different countries at the moment.


Purchases there have their own special national features.

The head of the Central Bank of Sweden, Stefan Ingves, said a week ago that in the current exceptional conditions, the Swedes are buying primarily the following three products: rice, pasta and snuff.

Sweden is the only EU country in which snuff is sold legally. About a million Swedes use snuff more or less regularly. It contains a lot of nicotine and is highly addictive.

Petya Pelli, a Helsingin Sanomat correspondent in Stockholm, noted that the rest of the Swedes are buying the same as the Finns: they purchase antiseptics in pharmacies and make empty shelves with toilet paper in stores. In some stores, sales have quadrupled.

In the homeland of meatballs, they buy not only pasta, but also minced meat.

Also people witness increased sales in the state network of alcoholic beverages stores. The Systembolaget Swedish state wine monopoly reported a record level of sales. Norwegians come to the western and northern regions of Sweden for alcohol.

This is a rather controversial phenomenon, because the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the citizens to refrain from all trips abroad. In addition, on March 16, the border with Norway became partially closed: Norway closed its airports and seaports to foreigners.

In Sweden, alcohol costs a little cheaper than in Norway.


Estonians are buying potatoes, Andres Soots, head of the South Estonian grocery chain sales department, reports to Postimees newspaper. This grocery network delivers products from local farmers to shops throughout Estonia.

“Grocery stores in Tallinn and Tartu order three times more potatoes than usual,” Soots said.

The second most popular product in Estonia is garlic. Kõlleste Garlic takes a record number of orders. Although garlic is an important component of Estonian cuisine, one of the current reasons for purchasing garlic is the general belief that garlic has a positive effect on health. The local online newspaper Delfi has published an article about the myths of coronavirus, among which is the opinion that coronavirus can be defeated by garlic.

“Garlic is a healthy product that helps the body fight germs. However, there is no evidence that eating garlic can protect against a new coronavirus,” Delfi quoted the World Health Organization.

Photos of empty shelves in alcohol stores appeared in social networks. Estonians buy a lot of 80 percent alcohol to use as an antiseptic.

Toilet paper is also popular in Estonia. The Estonians who remained at home, like the Finns, joke a lot about this. Facebook group "Black Exchange for the sale of toilet paper" in less than a week was joined by 16 000 people.

Germany, Netherlands, Austria

If a German goes to the store, he buys a lot. There is even a separate word for this phenomenon - hamsterkauf. The first signs of hamsterkauf were seen in late February, writes Der Spiegel. Then the Lidl retail chain reported an increase in sales of products with a long shelf life - canned goods and pasta. Sales of toilet paper and antiseptics also increased.

Related: 20 Ukrainians sick with Covid-19 abroad, - Healthcare Ministry

In mid-March, pasta ended even in online stores of some cities in Germany. On March 16, Germany decided to tighten measures to combat the spread of the virus, but store hours were not limited.

In Austria, the massive purchase of groceries in stores has acquired comic features: the local Kurier published a video showing a customer driving on a scooter inside the store. The scooter was loaded mostly with toilet paper. The purchases were so heavy that the buyer could not move the scooter without assistance. His original trip to the store was still unsuccessful.

The Dutch government, in turn, on March 15 announced the closure of all cafes that offer cannabis - for three weeks. According to AFP, just a few minutes after the press conference in many cities long lines appeared near cafes. If the day before, the Dutch grabbed toilet paper and pasta in stores, then on March 15 their minds were already completely different.


Americans stock up on weapons for a rainy day. For example, the online weapons store announced 70% sales growth in late February - early March. This year, more weapons permits were issued in America than usual. According to the FBI, between January and February, 5.5 million documents were issued for the purchase of weapons.

The Los Angeles Times writes that many Americans bought their first weapon this year.

"I want to buy a gun. Maybe Glock, but I'm not very sure," said the doctor who introduced himself as Ray.

“I have a family that needs to be protected in case of danger,” Ray said and expressed concern that public services would stop working.

Americans also buy antiseptics and wipes. Everclear liquor shelves are empty in Culver City stores. Its ales, according to the Los Angeles Times, have risen due to reports that 60 percent alcohol is a good disinfectant.


In Russia, sales of canned meat and fish increased, RBC reports. Russians buy pickled cucumbers and pasta - especially in such large cities as Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. RBC writes that in early March, sales of canned goods with vinegar and salt - for example, pickles and sauerkraut - increased in large cities by 79%.

Of the cereals, buckwheat is especially actively sold. It is a product popular in Russia. In Moscow stores, demand for sugar and salt also increased.

Major retailers also reported an increase in the supply of necessary goods such as cleaning products, baby food and pet food. According to RIA Novosti, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the citizens of the country not to buy food in reserve, because this is not necessary.

Related: Number of coronavirus-struck patients in Kyiv rises to 47








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