Pre-Hurricane Consumer Stockpiling and Post-Hurricane Product Availability: Empirical Evidence from Natural Experiments

Xiaodan Pan, Martin Dresner, Benny Mantin, Jun A. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The provision of essential supplies is a key service provided by retailers when demand spikes due to consumer stockpiling during environmental emergencies. Moreover, it is important for retailers to quickly recover from these events by replenishing the stock of essential supplies to meet the continuing needs of local residents. The main purpose of this research is to study consumer precautionary stockpiling behavior prior to the onset of hurricane landfalls and determine the impact of this behavior on in-store product availability for various formats of retail store outlets. Specifically, we focus on the bottled water product category, an essential emergency category in hurricane preparedness. This study combines an event analysis methodology with econometric models using archival retail scanner data from 60 US retail chains located in 963 counties and real-time data from four recent US continental hurricanes. We find that supply-side characteristics (retail network and product variety), demand-side characteristics (hurricane experience and household income), and disaster characteristics (hazard proximity and hazard intensity) significantly affect consumer stockpiling propensity as the hurricanes approach. The increased consumer stockpiling has immediate and longer-term impacts on retail operations, namely, in-store product availability. Among various retail formats, drug stores are associated with the highest consumer stockpiling propensity before hurricanes, while dollar stores and discount stores are associated with the lowest in-store product availability following hurricanes. Our study points to the need for retailers and policymakers to carefully monitor factors affecting consumer stockpiling behavior that will allow for better allocation of critical supplies during the hurricane season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2350-2380
Number of pages31
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • consumer stockpiling
  • hurricane disasters
  • natural experiment
  • product availability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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