TAIPEI, Taiwan — Across Taiwan’s major cities, consumers are in a near panic over a shortage of one of modern life’s basic necessities: toilet paper.
From Taipei in the north to Tainan in the south, retailers are having difficulty keeping it on their shelves, as reports of imminent price increases have sent consumers rushing to stores to stock up on the household staple, which in Taiwan is sold folded in packs rather than as rolls.
Taiwan’s toilet paper producers notified retailers on Friday that prices would increase 10 to 30 percent as soon as mid-March as a result of rising pulp prices on the global market, according to a report by Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
In Taipei’s Da’an district on Tuesday, PX Mart’s paper products section was down to its last few small packages of toilet paper; all the bulk packs were sold out. Around the corner, the situation was just as desperate at a normally well-stocked 7-Eleven convenience store, where an employee said stocks disappeared as soon as they were replenished. The rush on toilet paper was a top story for local newspapers stacked next to the cash register.
Things weren’t much different in the virtual world.
“The cost of toilet paper will go up soon, have you prepared?” asked text at the top of a dedicated web page of the online retailer PChome. Just below the ominous advertisement, which was superimposed over a fear-inducing image of empty shelves, the website was offering bulk deals on toilet paper by local and foreign brands.