If there’s anything that the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it’s that necessities become scarce in times of panic. By now, you’ve seen news reports of lines stretching out and around stores, and social media posts of people fighting over toilet paper and the last gallon of milk.
What are you doing to do to make sure you have what you need to get through hard times?
In a pandemic, you’re dealing with two forces. First, goods are scarce. Places you’ve depended on for years no longer have stock of your favorite items. Just try and search for masks right now on Amazon. They’re sold out everywhere. Second, even if you can find goods, odds are heightened demand is driving prices upward. When more people are scrambling to buy, the market drives prices higher.
If you’re anxious about shopping during the pandemic, there are some things you can do to feel more secure and avoid being scammed. Here are three ways to make smart purchases during the pandemic.
1. Focus on Needs vs Wants
The first thing you should do, if you haven’t already, is to make sure you and your loved ones are secure. Most experts recommend having at least 72 hours of provisions in case things get really bad. That means get enough food and water to last you three days in any condition. It’s a good idea to also pack some clothes and other emergency supplies like flashlights, batteries, and a first aid kit in a bag that’s ready to go. During a pandemic, these items might be more expensive to buy, but you should get them, nonetheless.
2. Only Shop with Trusted Vendors
A pandemic is not the time to gamble on whether that random website will come through. Unscrupulous people love to capitalize when there’s a general feeling of fear. This is particularly important for shopping online. Avoid anything questionable. Shop with larger names that have a good reputation. You’re less likely to be scammed. Be suspicious of a small website purporting to sell goods when places like Target or Walmart are saying they’re sold out.
3. Make a Shopping List
On a brighter note, as demand for basic goods like a mask, gloves, flour, and toilet paper skyrocket, it plummets for other things. You’re probably going to be able to score killer deals on high-end electronics, clothing, and furniture. While you’re working from home or bored with nothing to do, look online at some of your favorite companies to see what kind of deals they have going.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve also seen software companies and video game producers cut prices to draw bigger audiences while everyone’s home. They’re cutting prices and scrambling to capture market share. That’s good news for you as a consumer. For example, HBO, the popular production company, just announced it was making its streaming services free during the home quarantine. That’s a $15 a month savings, and you can use it to pass some of your extra time in the house.