2020 Pandemic TP Analysis

August 13, 2020

In March of 2020, the world came to a screeching halt due to COVID-19 and everyone had an "oh shit" moment. Many people's first reaction to this was to prepare for the absolute worst and stockpile resources, including Toilet Paper (TP).

There were videos posted online of people from all around the world fighting for TP -- here's one:

Fortunately, I didn't have an immediate need for any, as I had just bought a 30 pack before the pandemic. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any in stock, and was concerned that there would be a day that I would need to replenish my inventory.

I thought back to my days working in Supply Chain and remembered a framed quote that was above one of the manager's desk:

"If it can be measured, it can be improved"

So, I decided to get down to business and create a log.

After gathering the data, I needed to graph it:

Quarantine 2020 TP Consumption

If you just calculate the difference between the dates of each role (how long each role lasted) you get an average of 4.96 days.

There are a bunch of other ways to calculate safety stock, butt I'm not sure we need to invest that much thought into it.

There are a number of contributing factors impacting the average lifespan of a TP roll like:

  • number of users
  • what brand (and therefore size of roll)
  • amount of time spending at the house
  • if you're lactose intolerant

Anyways, that's a huge dump of information and probably more than enough for a while! It just made me feel better knowing that how many days of TP I had available. Now, I can count how many roles I have, do some back of the napkin calculations and multiply that by 5 to quickly figure out how many days I can without buying more inventory.

For example, 26 rolls x 5 = 130 days. Ask yourself, "will I be able to buy TP in the next 130 days?" -- I'm sure knowing that will be a huge relief!