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How hurricanes impact consumers’ water purchase

People’s stockpiling habits double when storms get close and strong

Water is typically first to go when a hurricane heads our way and some stores sell out quicker than others. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Water is typically first to go when a hurricane heads our way and some stores sell out quicker than others. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A study looked at how consumers stockpiled water prior to hurricanes and the impact it had on product availability in stores.

After comparing several hurricanes that impacted the U.S. researchers found consumer stockpiling propensity and in-store product availability vary significantly over the course of a hurricane.

For example, more people went to drug stores before the storm to gather water because they also provided critical products for hurricane preparedness, such as emergency kits and prescription drugs.

Grocery stores and warehouse clubs were chosen during the late preparedness and after the storm impacted the area.

In contrast, people typically shopped at low-cost oriented retail chains, such as discount stores and dollar stores after the storm event.

It turns out individual factors like landfall distance and strength affect consumer behavior in different ways.

Consumers with more hurricane experience and a higher-income tend to buy more due to higher purchasing power and greater risk perception.

Consumer stockpiling propensity for store outlets located in communities with per-capita-incomes of about $50,500 are 9% higher than in those communities with per-capita incomes of about $36,400.

And people more accustomed to experiencing storms like in Florida and North Carolina have a relatively higher stockpiling propensity than those in states with less hurricane experience.

When the distance from landfall, distance from track and wind strength -- a change from 508 miles, 233 miles and 70 miles per hour, respectively, to 151 miles, 92 miles, and 50 miles per hour -- there is a 55% increase in consumer stockpiling behavior.


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