Suddenly every consumer wants copious amounts of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and shelf-stable food. At the same time, the healthcare system needs ventilators and masks.
The spike in demand is evident in empty grocery store shelves and state politicians’ pleas for medical supplies.
When the retail or end-user node of the supply chain sees even a slight variation in demand, it quickly ripples and grows larger as it reaches suppliers and manufacturers. In the world of supply chain, this is known as the bullwhip effect — and we’re seeing it play out in real-time a the coronavirus leads consumers to panic buying and forces hospitals to scramble for supplies.