Everyone Panic-Buying Toilet Paper May Happen Again as U.S. Supply Chain Issues Facing More Challenges

by Michael Freeman

When the pandemic really started hitting hard last year, people flocked to retailers to buy toilet paper, leading to a shortage. A year and a half later, one supply chain is still experiencing disruptions, meaning another shortage may occur.

The United States’ paper supply is running thin, affecting books, envelopes, paper bags, toilet paper, and beyond, NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders reported on TODAY this morning. Labor shortages and major disruptions in the supply chain, exacerbated by the pandemic, caused delays in printing orders. Moreover, the delta variant caused many paper manufacturers to scale back operations. It’s gotten so bad some organizations have shifted to producing cardboard boxes for online orders.

For those who make paper, costs have increased as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports wood pulp, the material used in paper, has gone up 50.2% in the past year. It also reports paper rose 14.2% overall in the same time period.

Altogether, this could easily result in people panic-buying toilet paper like they did a year ago. Should this occur, we could face the same shortages we once did.

Other areas, such as the book industry, are also experiencing problems. Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt told TODAY about supply shortages the chain experienced close to the holiday season last year.

“The problem comes as we get closer into the holiday and really close to Christmas when some books start selling a bit more than we expect. Then there’s a problem because then you can’t reprint and or rather the capacity for reprint is limited.”

His advice? Don’t panic-buy and prepare adequately ahead of time. This serves as sound advice for both books and toilet paper.

Will Toilet Paper Prices Continue to Increase?

Earlier this year, several brands of toilet paper reported price increases to take place in June. Considering a second paper shortage is on the horizon, could another price hike be in the future?

Kimberly-Clark, a multinational personal care corporation, largely produces paper-based products. It notified United States and Canada consumers in March about raising prices on its products due to a shortage. A PR Newswire report this year stated the “percentage increases are in the mid-to-high single digits.” As such, it would be at most 9 percent and at least 4 percent.

The organization said the price spikes “are necessary to help offset significant commodity cost inflation.”

Kimberly-Clark manufacturers some of the most popular brand products in the country. Regarding toilet paper, they produce Cottonelle, Scott, and Viva. Additionally, it makes baby, child, and adult care products such as Huggies, Pull-Ups, Depend, Poise, and more.

Last year, retailers like Target, Walmart, Costco, and Amazon all faced toilet paper shortages, leading to more price increases. With people potentially repeating that again, it’s possible the product may become even more expensive.