One of the first things we noticed at the beginning on the pandemic and lockdowns was the sudden rush on the supermarkets and the disappearance of toilet paper from shelves.
Now researchers have pinpointed the most likely type of person to succumb to panic buying.,
Data from the University of Adelaide revealed women under 55 who have children and a university degree are in fact the number one culprit.
Researchers say panic buyers are people who become more anxious when there’s uncertainty in their day to day life.
“Toilet paper and milk were flying off the shelves faster than I could count, and carbonated water was just about empty.”
The study found one in four described their own behaviour last year as panic buying.
Research also discovered Australians are the ‘world’s best panic-buyers’.
But it’s a phenomenon seen right around the world.
Mass demand for rice and instant noodles in Singapore prompted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to assure the public there was enough to go around.
In Auckland, New Zealand, supermarket spending shot up 40% compared to the same day a year ago.
And shoppers in Malaysia wanting to pad “pandemic pantries” – grocery hoards to fill people’s kitchens until the crisis dies down – have driven an 800% increase in weekly hand sanitiser sales.
The psychology of panic buying
With events like looming natural disasters, such as a hurricane or flood, people frequently stock up with emergency supplies.
“It is rational to prepare for something bad that looks like it is likely to occur.”David Savage, associate professor of behavioural and microeconomics at the University of Newcastle in Australia
Irrational stockpiling can also lead to price gouging, Academics warn that if the price of a roll of toilet paper is tripled, then people will see that product as scarce, leading to anxiety.
“If everyone else on the Titanic is running for the lifeboats, you’re going to run too, regardless if the ship’s sinking or not”.Steven Taylor, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia
In the case of a hurricane or flood, most people have a fair idea of the items they may need in the event of a blackout or a water shortage. But since it’s unclear at this stage just what effects Covid-19 will have, there’s a lot of uncertainty driving this spending.
Brad Banducci quits as Woolworths Australia CEO after TV blow-up
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has revealed his decision to step down from his position, with Amanda Bardwell, head of loyalty and e-commerce, slated to succeed him as chief executive in September.
Bardwell’s appointment marks a historic moment as she becomes the first woman to lead the company in its nearly 100-year history.
Banducci’s departure comes at a critical juncture for Woolworths and its competitor, Coles, as they brace for an upcoming Senate inquiry led by the Greens.
The inquiry, scheduled for next month, is expected to scrutinise higher grocery costs, which Canberra has blamed for inflating supermarket profit margins at the expense of consumers.
This is what happened when Four Corners asked Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci about the lack of competition in the Australian grocery market.
— ABC News (@abcnews) February 19, 2024
In addition to the Senate inquiry, Labor has urged the competition regulator to investigate the supermarkets, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suggesting potential abuse of market power by the retailers.
Woolworths chairman Scott Perkins clarified that Banducci’s succession timeline was not accelerated in response to the scrutiny faced by the supermarket industry.
Perkins stated that interviews with potential candidates for the CEO position had been ongoing since the latter half of the previous year.
“There has been an ongoing dialogue with Brad,” Perkins told media. “There was no change to the timetable, no expedition at all.”
Importance of authenticity
Banducci acknowledged that he had considered delaying his departure but ultimately decided against it, citing the importance of authenticity. Despite the challenges facing the industry, he expressed confidence in Bardwell’s ability to lead Woolworths into the future.
Analysts reacted to the news with a mix of surprise and caution.
In financial terms, Woolworths’ food retail division reported a 5.2 percent increase in sales, or 6.6 percent excluding tobacco.
However, the company noted a moderation in prices, with average increases of 1.3 percent in the last three months of 2023.
Despite this, margins continued to improve, and earnings for the division rose by 8.2 percent.
Walmart reports holiday sales as shoppers seek better value
Walmart disclosed its fourth-quarter earnings showcasing a surge in sales during the holiday season, offering early insights into consumer spending trends amid a crucial period.
Despite a challenging economic climate, Walmart reported a 4 percent increase in comparable store sales for the three months ending in late January compared to the previous year.
The number of transactions also saw a notable uptick, rising by 4.3 percent. However, there was a slight decline of 0.3 percent in the average ticket price, indicating a tendency among shoppers to spend marginally less during their shopping trips.
The retail behemoth witnessed a significant boost in its online sales, with a 17 percent increase in the U.S. market and a remarkable 23 percent surge globally, surpassing the $100 billion mark. Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer, John David Rainey, attributed this growth partly to cost-saving measures in their e-commerce operations and the rising adoption of Walmart’s delivery services.
While the e-commerce sector saw substantial gains, there was a noted decrease in discretionary purchases such as electronics, as consumers prioritized essential items amidst economic uncertainties.
Walmart’s emphasis on value and affordability played a pivotal role in driving sales, particularly in its grocery segment.
The company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, highlighted Walmart’s commitment to offering competitive prices, leveraging its substantial grocery business.
In a strategic move to enhance its offerings, Walmart announced the acquisition of television manufacturer Vizio in a deal worth $2.3 billion, further expanding its Walmart Connect advertising and media business.
Millions of Australians are struggling with credit card repayments
Recent research has revealed a concerning trend: a significant number of Australians are falling behind on their credit card repayments, highlighting the financial strain faced by many households.
According to Finder’s Credit Card Report 2024, approximately 13% of Australian credit card holders, equivalent to nearly 1.8 million individuals, have missed at least one repayment in the past three months.
Of this group, 8% have fallen behind by 30 days, while 4% have missed payments by 60 days.
Alarmingly, 2% of cardholders have delayed repayments by more than 60 days.
Amy Bradney-George, a credit card expert at Finder, expressed concern over the prevalent misuse of credit cards, attributing it partly to the escalating cost of living.
Bradney-George warned that missing a credit card payment often incurs late fees and interest charges, exacerbating financial burdens for individuals.
Bradney-George emphasised the detrimental impact of late payments on credit scores.
She highlighted that a missed payment can be recorded on a credit file within just 14 days, potentially affecting an individual’s ability to secure loans or new credit cards in the future.
With details of late payments lingering on credit reports for up to two years, the consequences could be long-lasting.
Currently, there are over 13 million credit cards in circulation across Australia, accumulating a national debt of $18.1 billion subject to interest charges.
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