Once the public became aware of the spread of coronavirus in different pockets of the country, Americans began to take note that toilet paper quickly became one of the hottest commodities in supermarkets and bulk stores. While many people thought the surge in demand would be temporary, toilet paper rolls continue to fly off the shelves.
In fact, evidence suggests that some Americans are even starting to switch over to the European-style bidet, putting the days of toilet paper runs behind them.
Bathroom product companies and review websites have been seeing increased interest in bidets, and some companies have reported a dramatic increase in sales, reports Wired.
“Sales over the past few weeks have grown from double to triple to more like 10 times what they were in weeks before word spread about TP shortages,” Jason Ojalvo, CEO of the bidet company Tushy, told the news agency. “This could be the tipping point that finally gets Americans to adopt the bidet.”
James Lin, the owner of Bidet King, told the news agency that his company was also experiencing high online traffic and sales: “If you want to practice better hygiene and social distancing, getting a bidet sent to your home is a no-brainer.”
In an op-ed on Monday titled “Coronavirus Pandemic Hoarding Pushed Me To Give Up Toilet Paper,” Los Angeles Times writer Mariel Garza argues that she is “so over toilet paper,” and suggests that more people should consider bidets.
Having a jet of cool water spray your nether regions takes some getting used to. I still reflexively reach for the roll sometimes rather than the washcloth to dry off. I’m getting the hang of it, and I think that before long it will be as natural as, well, washing my hands.
I’m not saying everyone should rush out and buy a bidet. But think about it this way: Would you rather invest now in something that might save you money or find yourself with your pants down during the next disaster with just a sponge on a stick as a backup plan?
USA Today reports that part of the reason stores just can’t seem to keep toilet paper on the shelves long enough has to do with an increased demand for the type of toilet paper used at home.
Toilet paper manufacturer Georgia-Pacific says that Americans are using an estimated 40% more toilet paper at home than normal, a factor that can be attributed to fewer people using restrooms in businesses and public places, where a different type of toilet paper is used, reports the news agency.
In a Medium post that explains the increase in demand for toilet paper, Will Oremus reports that keeping toilet paper in stock at stores also has to do with the differences in the supply chains for industrial toilet paper and home-use toilet paper.
“It comes in huge rolls, too big to fit on most home dispensers. The paper itself is thinner and more utilitarian. It comes individually wrapped and is shipped on huge pallets, rather than in brightly branded packs of six or 12,” writes Oremus.
“In theory, some of the mills that make commercial toilet paper could try to redirect some of that supply to the consumer market. People desperate for toilet paper probably wouldn’t turn up their noses at it. But the industry can’t just flip a switch,” he says.
“Shifting to retail channels would require new relationships and contracts between suppliers, distributors, and stores; different formats for packaging and shipping; new trucking routes — all for a bulky product with lean profit margins,” says Oremus.