Why isn't toilet paper reappearing on store shelves yet?

A lot of people are wondering about the nation's TP supply chain.
Publish date:

If you've been able to find a few rolls of toilet paper for sale, consider yourself really lucky. 

Thanks to coronavirus panic buying, shortages of the stuff are being reported across the country, and Minnesota hasn't been spared:

Now, the burning question: when will it stop being so scarce?

First, the good news: America's TP manufacturing capabilities are just fine. 

According to a Los Angeles Times report, there's no risk to the "nation’s toilet paper pipeline," with a Harvard Business School professor telling the paper that factories are "still cranking this stuff out” on schedule.

The problem, the Times explains, is that because there is no "hot season" for toilet paper (as there is for, say, sunblock), "factories are designed to run as efficiently as possible around the clock to produce a constant stream of product, with little room for increase or decrease."

In other words, it's a demand problem, not a supply problem.

An Albuquerque Journal piece echoes this, saying that "rumors of a true toilet paper shortage are false," with a New Mexico manufacturing leader telling the publication that the dearth of TP is largely due to consumers “hoarding and purchasing” it. 

He also tells the paper that toilet paper will return to shelves in "a matter of weeks, not a matter of months."

Yes, weeks — not as bad as months, but still, arguably, a long time to go without such an essential product.

But we're now hearing from the manufacturers themselves, with Georgia-Pacific announcing on social media that "we are working as quickly as we can to meet our customers’ demands": 

Specific projections for when you might be able to buy toilet paper again are not yet available, but BringMeTheNews has reached out to Cub Foods, Lunds & Byerlys and Kowalski's for comment. 

Next Up