Final Abstract for URS Program
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals across the world engaged in Disaster Related Buying Behaviors to prepare for extended lockdown periods. These behaviors, commonly referred to as “panic buying”, had retailers scrambling to meet the new demand patterns for critical supplies, which are goods that are indispensable for sustaining life and the normal functioning of households and businesses. The inability of supply chains to rapidly increase the production and distribution of critical supplies resulted in widespread shortages. The main goal of this research is to explore the role that media coverage of the pandemic has on “panic buying” purchases. We use retail scanner data on toilet tissue products consisting of weekly pricing, volume, and store environment information from retail chains across all US markets from 2016 to 2020 to model the effect that media reports about the COVID-19 pandemic have on changes in purchasing behaviors for critical supplies. Our research identifies several themes covered by the media that impacted purchases of this critical item. We model consumer reactions to these themes, which include news reports on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, announcement of social distancing measures, as well as reports of empty shelves, among others. The findings are relevant for the development of supply chain management policies that can anticipate these precautionary buying episodes and mitigate their impacts.