Eventually, the shortages subsided, as supply chains were able to catch up. But in recent weeks, there have been additional reports of new shortages of such products. It’s not quite to the point of last spring, but there are undoubtedly still shortages in some parts of the country of paper towels, toilet paper, or both.
CNN reported last week that, yes, it’s difficult to find paper towels again.
Paper towels, per the report, have been in and out of stock at places like Amazon and Costco. This was brought about, per that report, by a “massive surge” in sales of Bounty paper towels, in particular, in the month of July. The shortage was also attributed to trends in “lean manufacturing,” which means that manufacturers only make as much product as they think they can sell short-term.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported earlier this month that while toilet paper shortages have mostly dissipated, it’s not the usual toilet paper that’s arriving on shelves in parts of the United States. Petalo or Regio, a pair of toilet paper brands from Mexico, have begun appearing in U.S. stores, in place of Charmin and other familiar American brands. CVS, Safeway and other major retail chains have begun carrying those Mexican brands. Supply chain experts said that change was going to be temporarily, however.
NBC New York noted in a report this month that the Mexican toilet paper has become ubiquitous in New York City specifically.
The Boston TV station WCVB, meanwhile, reported that there’s been a resurgent shortage of paper goods in Massachusetts. One economist attributed the paper towel shortage to teachers buying the towels in order to clean their classrooms ahead of the return to school. The shortage has also carried over to napkins and toilet paper.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in early September that shortages continue for both paper towels and disinfectant wipes. The story noted that it’s hard to find Bounty towels at some locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, and when you can, they’re more expensive than is typically the case.
Meanwhile, there are reports out of Canada of a potential paper towel shortage north of the border. According to CTV News, the head of Kruger Products, Canada’s largest manufacturer of tissue products, is concerned about another shortage, ahead of a possible “second wave” of the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID doesn’t make you go to the bathroom more, but it does make you clean more,” that CEO, Dino Bianco, said.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters