American shoppers panic-buying as coronavirus spike aggravates year of upheaval

Americans buying guns alongside their toilet paper and canned goods in anticipation of Nov. 3

With just four days until the 2020 presidential election, early indicators show American shoppers concerned about political fallout, a spike in coronavirus cases and the possibility of more lockdowns are stockpiling goods.

As tensions run high, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and other basic goods are reportedly flying off store shelves once more in anticipation of a night of civil unrest next Tuesday.


Approaching the close of a chaotic year, in which social and racial justice protesters have frequently clashed with federal law enforcement, uncertainty has served as a catalyst, USA Today reported earlier this week.

Mothers are buying guns and ammunition in record numbers alongside their canned goods, in preparation for unprecedented election-related violence.

In June, gun dealers ran more than 3.9 million background checks on purchasers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, according to FBI data. It was the highest number ever recorded in a single month.

A shopper wears a mask as she pulls her grocery cart in the rain Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Over the first nine months of 2020, gun sellers had conducted more checks than they had in all of 2019.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the nation is on track to stockpile firearms at record rates, buying 15.1 million guns in the seven months this year from March through September.

Hoping to "bug out," residents in large cities allegedly plan to flee their apartments -- perhaps for the second time this year -- for homes in more remote locations.

The U.S. has a long history of violent protests, but this year the country's main political parties are seemingly more divided in their beliefs than ever.

Some traditional Republicans, tired of continually divisive rhetoric and actions from the Trump administration, are notably siding with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has presented himself as a unifying candidate amidst the "battle for the soul of the nation."

Additionally, a growing sense of urgency about a fast-approaching winter during the coronavirus pandemic has further stoked fears.

In September, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci advised all Americans to prepare to “hunker down to get through this fall and winter" -- whether in a state where cases are spiking or not.

When the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, 64% percent of shoppers created a stockpile of products as a result, according to data-driven technology-enabled services company Inmar Intelligence.

Yahoo Finance reported last weekend that retailers like Walmart are "fighting" to keep their aisles stocked as Americans stuff grocery carts. And, the holiday season has just begun.

Certain items are already running low, including liquid hand soap, disinfecting wipes, and canning jars.

Yahoo said shortages of paper products, produce, frozen food, home appliances, and exercise and outdoor gear are also likely.

In addition, CBS Los Angeles reported Wednesday that spices and baking essentials are rapidly disappearing.


While stores monitor inventory levels, companies have responded to increasing demand by sending items to stores without orders.

The shift has also been gradual and though stores now expect higher grocery spending, retailers are likely to limit the sale of high-demand items early to combat monopolization.