Psychological factors like anxiety and a loss of control are some of the common reason Australians panic buy products, a study has found.
South Australian researchers have investigated the cause and biggest culprits of the bizarre and frustrating phenomenon that sprung up the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study by the University of Adelaide found parents, females, people aged under 55 and university educated people were the most common panic buyers.
It also revealed that about one in four Australians were panic buyers.
The survey, involving more than 1000 Australians, was conducted between June and July last year.
University of Adelaide agriculture and food economics professor Wendy Umberger said about 24 per cent of the Australian population admitted to panic buying “to some degree”.
She explained that researchers used psychological variables in the study and said those who engaged in panic buying had some “interesting characteristics”.
She added panic buyers had a higher-than-average measure of intolerance to uncertainty and tended to be anxious people.
“Whenever they have a loss of control, they try to do things that give them some degree of control,” Professor Umberger told 3AW.
“(Being) anxious, or any fear of unknown — that’s going to really concern people.”
Professor Umberger added a “really high” level of trust in the federal government was also revealed in the study.
“(This) is interesting considering the Prime Minister came out (at the beginning of the pandemic) and said ‘it’s un-Australian’ (to panic buy) and yet people continue to do it,” she said.
“It’s because of the deep psychological characteristics of people.”
Another finding from the study discovered panic buyers likely had others that they cared for, like children under the age of 18 or an elderly relative.
Throughout the pandemic, products including pasta, toilet paper and bread have been swept off of supermarket shelves as soon as a lockdown is announced.
There were similar scenes last week when Victoria was plunged into a seven-day lockdown that has now been extended.
Panic buying has forced supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths to impose purchase limits in a bid to ensure fair amounts of stock are sold to individuals and avoid the mass purchasing.