At the end of February in Taiwan , panic began because of rumors about an increase in the cost of toilet paper. In just a few days because of the excitement the goods disappeared from the shelves of local shops, and the authorities had to calm the citizens.
Rumors of a rise in prices were launched by paper producers
According to the Ministry of Economy of Taiwan, because of forest fires in Canada and problems in Brazil, world prices for cellulose – the material from which paper is made – have risen. If earlier it cost $ 650 per ton, then as of February it cost manufacturers $ 800 per ton.
After this statement, the manufacturers of toilet paper began to warn local stores about the increase in prices by 10-30% since mid-March. Because of this, the cost of a package of 12 rolls of paper would have grown to $ 9 instead of $ 7 .
Information about the price increase for the basic hygiene item quickly penetrated the Internet. There it spread among the inhabitants of the island on the principle of “word of mouth” and caused a real panic.
Residents panicked and began to buy up all available toilet paper
After predictions about the rise in prices, the Taiwanese went to the stores massively and bought as much toilet paper as they could carry. In social networks began to appear pictures with empty counters of the goods. This further aggravated the excitement among the inhabitants of the island.
As a result, on February 25 and 26, the Taiwanese devastated the shelves of local supermarkets, many stood in line waiting for new supplies of paper. In social networks began to appear videos, in which only the imported batch of goods snapped up in a few seconds.
The problem did not pass around and online retailers. Store ETMall said that in a few days toilet paper rose sharply to the sixth place in the list of the best-selling goods, and sales grew 20-fold. The products of many brands were bought out entirely. A similar situation was with the online retailer Pchome. The store sold 5 million packs of toilet paper in three days – 22 times more than the average sales volume.
The authorities unsuccessfully tried to reassure the residents
The government of Taiwan said that the supplies of daily necessities are stable, and prices will not rise until mid-March. After that, Taiwan’s Prime Minister Lai Qingde said that there was no reason for panic, and prices “will remain at the same level.” In Facebook, he urged the inhabitants of the island to stop buying paper and said that everything can be solved if there is no panic.
The Ministry of Consumer Protection said that the four largest retailers promised to keep prices on paper until mid-March. They assured that they would not use the situation for speculation, accumulating goods in warehouses to sell it at a higher price.
The authorities promised to check the stores to protect themselves from premature price hikes. If the agency finds collusion to raise prices, all companies will be fined one million dollars. In order to understand the situation and prevent collusion, the Taiwan Fair Trade Commission even held a meeting with eight of the largest manufacturers of toilet paper and retailers.
Mayor of Taiwanese capital Taipei Ke Wenzhe (Ko Wen-jie) asked the residents what they would do with all the toilet paper.
You only have one ass, what will you do with all this toilet paper? It is very strange.
Companies found a way to make a panic and circumvent the law
Some companies still took advantage of the situation, but found a way not to break the law. An unnamed firm has posted targeted ads on facebook, in which island residents are encouraged to buy more than 100 packets of toilet paper at a time, until prices have risen. The Fair Trade Commission noted that if the company did not raise the price, it did not violate anything.
The companies servicing the vending machines reacted to the panic. In Taiwan, machine guns began to appear, in which you can try to win a pack of toilet paper for 50 cents.