UK freelance journalist Simon Creasey had to abandon his principles when he was down to the last roll at home, and joined the ‘bun fight’ in the aisles.
At the start of the pandemic I refused to get involved in the stockpiling of toilet rolls (a shortage of kitchen roll was never really going to be an issue because you can use tea towels, whereas the only replacement for toilet rolls is newspapers!) I seem to have been a lone figure, with the shelves of my local supermarkets emptied before they could be restocked last spring. One day at the Waitrose near my workplace word got out that they have just received a delivery of toilet roll so half of the office ran down the stairs to stock up before they sold out – people were literally taking them off of the metal container on the shop floor before the shop assistant could put them on the shelves. As our household was down to the last roll at the time I also joined the bun fight and bought a large nine roll multipack of luxury own label toilet paper, but I’ve still got eight of the rolls as it just wasn’t as good as my usual brand – Andrex Skin Kind, which features a prebiotic lotion. My mum and dad always bought Andrex and I’ve continued to be loyal to the brand and particularly to the Skin Kind product. I even take a couple of rolls of it with me when I go away on holiday as overseas toilet roll just doesn’t cut the mustard. However, getting hold of a pack of it these days is challenging. Not because people are still stockpiling toilet paper, but because one of the trends accelerated by the pandemic was the large supermarket chains reducing the number of SKUs they sell. They were already undertaking range reviews and rationalising the number of products they stocked prior to the pandemic and it’s a pattern that has continued. As a result, whereas previously I could buy a four pack of Andrex Skin Kind from my local Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, now only the latter stocks four packs. My local Morrisons doesn’t stock the product at all now and the Tesco only sells large multipacks.
When you walk down the aisles of supermarkets it’s noticeable that they are stocking smaller ranges of branded goods across all product categories and they’re bulking out the shelves with their own label products, which for me just don’t cut it. I’m sure some people would have switched to own label toilet roll during the pandemic through necessity rather than choice and some may have decided to stick to own label due to the price differential – a distant relative of mine went crazy at the start of the pandemic buying tens of packs of own label roll that he stored in the loft – he is still wading through them today! I remain loyal to Andrex Skin Kind – when I manage to get my hands on it.