Dalton explains why rational people are panic buying as coronavirus spreads


The worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus is leading to some curious side effects: Store shelves are being stripped bare. Panic buying has emerged as reliable a feature of the coronavirus epidemic as a fever or dry cough. Hong Kong, for instance, became a case study in how panic buying can escalate in late January. The rumors started that Hong Kong’s supply of toilet paper would be affected by the epidemic spreading in China.

Amy Dalton, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and our faculty associate, commented on panic buying, suggests whether the government can inspire confidence in their people depends not just on their leaders’ decisions, but also the characteristics of their respective countries. More communal societies, where people have a lot of trust in each other and their government, like Singapore, are better equipped to deal with things like epidemics. On the other hand, “this every-man-for-himself thing is really going to be exacerbated in the U.S.,” she said. “They’re low trust, they’re very individualistic, and of course, they have no faith in their government.”

Read the news article that quoted her and was published on 11 March on ThePrint.

Prof Dalton also discussed panic buying on video with Bloomberg Quicktake on 10 March 2020. 

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