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Virus sparks huge spike in ridiculous Google search

Coronavirus has triggered a spike in searches for bidets and toilet paper. Source: Getty
Coronavirus has triggered a spike in searches for bidets and toilet paper. Source: Getty

Australians have been purchasing toilet paper like it’s going out of fashion (or stock), with supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles struggling to keep up with the demand – and the stampede of people.

But while physical toilet paper is declining in numbers, toilet paper stocks are on the rise.

Looking at the Australian stock exchange, the stock price for Asaleo, the parent company of Sorbent, saw stocks rise 1.34 per cent in the last five days.

The Kimberly-Clark Corporation, which is the parent company of Kleenex, has also surged 5.30 per cent in the last five days.

Supermarket stock prices also look poised to climb, with equity analysts at Credit Suisse painting a bullish outlook for the Coles share price, and experts predicting that the increased consumer buying could see Woolworths’ revenue rise.

On Wednesday, Woolworths issued a purchase limit on toilet paper amid panic-buying sparked by the spread of coronavirus in Australia, and seemingly the fear that Aussies will be forced to self-quarantine for 14 days without supplies.

“Woolworths has today moved to apply a quantity limit on toilet paper packs to ensure more customers have access to the products,” the supermarket’s spokesperson said.

“It will help shore up stock levels as suppliers ramp up local production and deliveries in response to higher than usual demand.”

Searches surge for Bidets, toilet paper

In the last seven days, searches for Bidets, a type of sink which cleans your underside with water, hit their peak on Wednesday according to data from Google Trends.

Searches for bidet hit their peak on Wednesday. Source: Google Trends
Searches for bidet hit their peak on Wednesday. Source: Google Trends

Randall Cadby, managing director of Australian Bidets said he had been inundated with calls and email from the panicking public over the last few days, enquiring about bidets - particularly the Japanese-style built in ones.

In fact, Cadby saw 500% increase of traffic to his website since the toilet paper crisis took over.

Searches for toilet paper also saw their peak on Wednesday.

Why are people bulk-buying toilet paper?

So far there have been 42 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia, and it appears the anxiety around the virus is causing Aussies to stockpile on necessities.

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It’s also not just in Australia: supermarkets in Japan, the US and New Zealand are also running low on toilet paper supply amid the virus threat.

And while social media users might be ridiculing those who are stockpiling, experts say it’s actually quite justified.

“I think it is the perfect product. It is completely non-perishable and one of the few products that you can stock up on that you are guaranteed to use eventually,” David Savage, professor at Newcastle Business School told the Conversation.

“I don’t know for certain but I suspect that most people only buy toilet paper when they just about run out, which could be a problem if you need to stay isolated for two weeks.

“So I think this is just a preparation process, because we have seen that toilet paper has become a shortage item elsewhere.”

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