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The way we buy and use toilet paper has changed forever

And toilet paper brands must learn to adapt or be wiped away.

The way we buy and use toilet paper has changed forever
[Photo: Kev Bation/Unsplash]

Who can forget the great toilet paper rush during the beginning of the pandemic? Every store you went to seemed to have completely empty aisles where rolls of toilet paper would normally be found. For some reason, as a deadly virus raged, people seemed to really fear they wouldn’t be able to wipe their tushies.

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But while the TP rush of 2020 has subsided and tissues are now easy to come by, the pandemic has changed the way people buy and consume toilet paper, according to a report out from McKinsey & Company.

The first change deals with where we buy toilet paper. In 2020, the outlets where we buy TP saw radical shifts. Mixed retailers (think Target or Walmart) saw their overall share of where toilet paper purchases occurred drop by almost 20% year-over-year while grocery stores saw a 20% rise YOY. But the real winner? E-commerce sites saw toilet paper sales increase 47% YOY as people changed their shopping behavior to online purchasing.

Additionally, where we used toilet paper dramatically shifted, too. As lockdowns persisted and the world moved to a remote-first workforce wherever possible, at-home consumption of toilet paper soared as people stayed away from offices, cafes, and schools. As we were all at home much more than usual, it turned into the place where we spent most of our time wiping, too.

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McKinsey sees many of these pandemic-related changes sticking around to some degree in the years ahead, and thus the toilet paper industry (and other tissue-product makers) will need to adapt. As a result, the firm says toilet paper manufactures will shift to more online sales-friendly packaging, including the size of the packs “such as more ship-ready packaging to ensure that tissue products can be sent with no need for secondary packaging.”

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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