While we are still in the process of Brexit – leaving the EU – a pandemic has hit the world. It’s not just the UK needing to prepare for leaving the EU but the whole world preparing to fight a new virus.
People have not prepared, so now they are panicking and buying everything in sight. Supermarket shelves are empty of toilet paper and bread. Milk is in short supply and people are fighting over what few supplies are available. This happens not only when a pandemic occurs but also every winter in places where they get a lot of snow and it suddenly, surprisingly, starts snowing because it’s winter.
These Things Are ALWAYS Going To Happen
There is always going to be a tornado, a flood, an illness, a snowstorm, a power cut or SOMETHING that is going to disrupt daily life.
We Have Lost The Ability To Prepare
Some years ago, shops closed all day on Sundays and often at lunchtimes and on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. They closed for a couple of days at Christmas and Easter. We knew how to prepare for that. Even earlier, there WERE no shops. People grew their own vegetables, hunted for autumn fruit and caught their own meat. They had apple barrels and hung meat in the fireplace or kept a stockpot going, where fresh stuff was thrown in. I am not suggesting we go back to those days (though some already have) but that we get back to understanding how to stock and prepare for the lean times.
Just In Time
JIT or “Just In Time” is another problem. Shops used to have stockrooms where they stored the next lot of goods for going on the shelves. They always had anything from 3 days to 3 weeks of supplies available. Now, they have “Just In Time” deliveries. They get a delivery every day and it’s gone by the time the next JIT delivery arrives. At Christmas or Easter, they increase the number of deliveries by about 30% to take account of increased demand. Before the last Brexit deadline, when it was thought the UK might leave the EU with no deal, the government knew that lorry delays and customs would delay deliveries from abroad and asked supermarkets to increase their stocks to carry about 3 months supply of goods. Whether those stocks have now been run down, I do not know. But there will be a need for that kind of storage again at the end of December 2020, when the next Brext deadline takes place. The use of JIT deliveries means that when demand increases unexpectedly, as it does in the time of a pandemic or the threat of floods, for instance, the shops do not have sufficient stock to meet that increased demand, so we see empty shelves.
Of course, the sight of empty shelves produces panic as people worry that others know more than them and they won’t be able to feed their family. Then we see fights breaking out, angry scenes as people are unable to get what they need, poorer people who are unable to buy extra missing out, etc.
PREP Not Panic
If you PREP – that is prepare for shortages or for things not being available in times of environmental crisis, like illness or floods or snowstorms – then you are helping EVERYONE. You won’t need to panic buy because you will have what you need, nor will you need to spend money from a tight budget because you will have built up your stocks gradually, thinking about what you will NEED. That means more left for others, including those who are unable to stock up. It also means less waste, because you won’t be throwing out stuff you can’t use and you won’t be buying loads of stuff you would never use. It also means you don’t have to go out, if you have to self isolate due to illness or possible infection.