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Panic-buying tampons will only make them less accessible to women who need them

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Hollie Richardson
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Coronavirus stockpiling has resulted in a shortage of tampons on some supermarket shelves. Here’s why it needs to stop.

Why are people panic-buying during the coronavirus pandemic? It’s a question we explored earlier this week, unravelling the psychology behind why people are stocking up on toilet roll, hand sanitiser, bags of pasta and other household essentials. 

“When people are reminded about their mortality, they become more impulsive,” consumer psychologist Kate Nightingale told Stylist. “This can result in overspending.”

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Sure, that makes sense. And the anxiety people are feeling right now is, of course, understandable. But the reality is that one individual’s decision to stockpile items likely results in another person not having anything. You’ve probably seen the handwritten “no hand sanitiser” in shop windows, and rolled your eyes at the empty supermarket shelves where stacks of toilet roll used to sit. The problem this creates has been proven by the latest news that it is causing foodbank shortages

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This kind of panic-buying particularly affects women because essential items include period products. Women have shared stories of supermarkets running out of tampons on their shelves, pointing out that not everyone can afford to buy tampons – let alone stockpile them.

One woman wrote: “Just went to Sainsbury’s to buy my teens sanitary stuff. Who are the ARSES who have stockpiled everything in these aisles with zero thought for anyone young or those who can’t afford to stockpile? Literally no tampons or pads!”

Another woman shared a photo of a near-empty shop shelf, captioning it: “Of all the things to stockpile… tampons and sanitary towels.

“How many months do people intend on self-isolating for?!

“Meanwhile I’ve had to go to 3 different shops just to find paracetamol that isn’t that stupidly pricey £2.99 a pop cos everyone’s stockpiling that too.”

A third woman shared another photo, asking: “Seriously though, what are you supposed to do if you can’t afford to stockpile pads/tampons and there are none left when you need them?”

Another person wrote: “This is absolutely f***ing crazy and everyone stockpiling should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Today a poor girl wanted to buy tampons but those shelves were empty too, self-isolating is two weeks, not months!

And a fifth person on Twitter added: “I went to the supermarket today and literally every single sanitary product had gone. Luckily my period was last week, if it was this week I dunno what I’d do… just bleed everywhere I guess because selfish women are stockpiling tampons and pads? It’s ridiculous!”

When Stylist shared news of the tweets with Bloody Good Period founder, Gabby Edlin, she said that it’s “not surprising” people are stockpiling on these products.

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She explained: “It just goes to show how essential they are and how the thought of going without is frightening and so very real for so many people, especially those in poverty. 

“I think with all stockpiling that feeling of caring about others access goes out the window so I would just urge supermarkets to stock extra.”

Of course we want to make sure we have enough period products to feel protected and comfortable during our period, but Edlin’s words are worth remembering before we overdo it.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…