Panic buying continues amidst coronavirus outbreak as stores impose purchase limits

As fears of coronavirus grow, some people are heading to grocery stores to stock up on a number of items.

Grocery aisles once filled with toilet paper, paper towels or even hand sanitizer are now empty. Shoppers around the world are doing this amid fears of quarantines, and having to stay inside their house for several weeks.

Therapist Gives Psychological Reason

Therapists say there is a psychological reason behind it. They say with "panic buying", people are acting in a herd mentality, and the response is due to fear and control. 

"There is a sense of safety in feeling prepared," said Jessica Lamar at PCS in Scottsdale. "I think people are feeling afraid. It is fear of the unknown. When we are afraid, and we don't know what to be afraid of, we seek control."

FOX 10's Bailey Miller spoke with a number of people in Scottsdale, many of them tourists. They either say they are concerned, or that they are keeping a close eye on the virus.

"I think we are just starting to see the beginning of it and be vigilant," said a woman.

"We are taking precautions. We are doing what we are supposed to do, washing hands a bunch," said a man.

Many, however, say people may be panicking about the wrong things.

"When I look at the reaction, the silliness of big box stores to buy toilet paper, I think where the serious shortage is for the tests, for the testing of whether you have the coronavirus or not," said another man. 

Lamar says it is possible to avoid this response of panic buying. She says people can prepare without the fear. 

"Grounding ourselves can feel more healthy," said Lamar.

The way to handle this kind of fear in a healthy manner, therapists say, is to check the pantry, as people may already have everything they need. Those who have thoughts of panic should ground yourselves and breathe.

Stores Impose Purchase Limits

As people continue to stock up on items, the shelves of some stores are now empty.

"The shelves are completely empty. There's no toilet paper," said David Guerrero, who was at a Target in Phoenix on Monday.

Other items were also in short supply.

"Paper towels and dish soap. They don't have that much," said Guerrero.

Many stores are working hard to keep certain items in stock, and now, some are placing limits on how many items a person can buy.

A Target spokesperson says disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers are now limited to six per person.

Meanwhile, a sign at a Phoenix area Costco informed customers that each club member can only buy two packages of bottled water.

On Monday, a spokesperson with Amazon told FOX 10 they have terminated certain accounts because the accounts were price-gouging products that were in short supply. Ebay officials say they are blocking posts on hand sanitizers or disinfectant wipe sales.

While there are people who are stocking up, not everyone is doing so.

"I don't think panic is the answer right now," said Rita Kujawa-Holsten. "I'm just buying what I use for the week."

"Unless you wrap your face in toilet paper, but other than that, I don't know what the toilet paper thing is," said Caitlin Liberatore.

Panic buying, however, has affected some people. Debbie Pomeroy, who was just trying to get her normal amount of daily necessities, says she was frustrated.

"I just want my toilet paper," said Pomeroy.