Tag Archives: stockoiling

Pure Guardian

The Guardian today (03/04/2020) had a ‘long read’ by an author, Bee Wilson. Without wishing to focus on her in particular, it did typify this series in the paper by exhibiting Guardian characteristics of (a) seeking a target to demonise (b) being long on anecdotes of extreme and unrepresentative examples, pop-psychology and short on rational analysis and logic, and (c) accompanied by sounds of axes being ground / bees buzzing in bonnets in the background. See https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/apr/03/off-our-trolleys-what-stockpiling-in-the-coronavirus-crisis-reveals-about-us

The issue here was about the tendency of part of the population to ‘stockpile’ at times of crisis (such as the present one), and how it was practised by (without explicitly saying so) uneducated, irrational,’chav’ types that presumably don’t live in the area where Bee resides.

What this and other articles have not addressed is how ‘stockpiling’ is not only rational, it is the inevitable outcome of the Government’s own policies. Grumpy is old, and at the behest of the Government is ensconced in his bunker, and being in a high risk group, relies on deliveries to the door for food. Previously, Grumpy did his weekly shop, and purchased a weeks’ worth of food. However, as demand soared for home deliveries as a result of Government policy, so did the lead times for getting deliver slots – it any were available at all.

Her flawed article extols the virtues of local shops (presumably selling the sort of edibles that foodies such as her eat) saying that plenty of food was available, but they, in the main, don’t deliver. What part of the word ‘isolation’ does Ms Wilson not understand ?? Let me help her – the OED defines it as “Cause (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others.” .. you can’t go out shopping, dummy.

Assume that it takes 3 weeks to get a slot on average. Buyers were faced with a choice; either (i) buy a weeks worth of food to be delivered as before and starve for the next two week waiting for the next slot or (ii) buy three weeks of food to line up with the extended lead times. The combination of self-isolation and extended delivery lead times inevitably logically results in an initial tripling or more of consumption on a transient basis. This is 101 procurement / queuing theory. (One assumes that Bee Wilson sends her secretary down to Tesco to risk COVID to get her supplies, so is spared this reality.) Nowhere in her tedious article was this scenario discussed, notwithstanding the psychology-lite explanations from the usual ‘hire a pundit’ experts. There is a comment from one contributor about risk resilience, but that was related to additional consumption of 30% because people were no longer eating in their Notting Hill restaurants, but there was no mention of the underlying delivery issue.

In fact, as Grumpy writes, there are NO slots available at Asda, Morrisons (a 45,000 user queue), Ocado, Tesco, or Waitrose; so how is he to get food without going out, which is not what self-ISOLATION is about? So if a slot appears, and it is clear that he might get another in delivery in May, how many tins of soup is he to buy? The rational answer is the logical one – as many as he possibly can. It’s not stockpiling, and he is not panicking. He does want to eat, and not starve. Grumpy can do the math and understand probability and expected outcomes far better than Ms Wilson seemingly can. So if she wants a target, attention should be given to the organisers of delivery logistics when responsible citizens follow the Government edict to stay at home. The people responsible, Priti Patel and Matt Hancock (the former being completely invisible of late), should sort out the mechanisms (using the army if the Supermarkets wont do it) to get food delivered to those they have imprisoned.