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Global toilet paper prices rise in COVID-19’s wake

Australia sees toilet paper prices increase by 9.09% in the last month.

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COVID-19 is changing all facets of daily life, from going to work, to seeing friends and family, to shopping at the supermarket. Among the biggest changes is the ability to find and buy toilet paper, with panic buyers purchasing so much that there have been shortages worldwide. Even Google has seen a spike in the number of people searching for toilet paper.

A basic principle of economic theory is the law of supply and demand: high demand + limited supply = higher prices. This law has been on display for the world to see, with the average cost of toilet paper rising by 3.37% between 25 March and 22 April 2020, from $1.93 to $2.00 on average for four rolls of toilet paper, according to data submitted to Expatistan and analysed by Finder.

Which countries saw their prices rise the most?

Australia was near the top of the list for highest price rises, seeing the cost of four rolls of toilet paper jump 9.09% over roughly the last month.

Overall, nine countries saw a double-digit percentage increase in the cost of four rolls of toilet paper. Norway leads the way, with prices jumping almost 68% from $2.71 to $4.54. In second place is Singapore, where the average cost of toilet paper rose from $2.15 to $3.20, roughly a 49% increase. Cyprus rounds out the top three, with prices going from $1.91 to $2.58 – a 35% increase.

Top 10 toilet paper price hikes

CountryCost 25 March 2020Cost 22 April 2020Price increase after 1 month
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Overall, prices around the world jumped by about 3.37% between 25 March and 22 April 2020, from $1.93 to $2.00, with almost 57% of all countries tracked by Expatistan seeing an increase in the price of loo paper. However, not every country saw its prices rise, with close to 18% seeing no change and close to 26% seeing the price of bathroom tissues decrease over the last month.

Asia home to the largest price rises

Before diving into the continents, it's worth pointing out that some countries are transcontinental or have histories that make their continental placement more about geography than culture or vice versa. Rather than do a deep dive in the weeds, we placed countries in continents based on where they're listed on Worldometers. Back to the report.

Countries in Asia make up more than half of the top 10 countries with the largest price increases over the last month, so it should come as little surprise that the Asian continent includes the countries with the largest combined price hike overall, with prices rising from an average of $1.91 to $2.06. That's a 7.56% increase.

Hot on the heels of Asia is Oceania, where prices rose by an average of 6.15%, from $1.87 to $1.99. Rounding out the top three is Europe, where prices increased by 4.62%, from $1.78 to $1.87.

North America saw the biggest negative change, with prices dropping by 1.71% on average, from $2.98 to $2.93. Africa also saw an average negative change in the cost of toilet paper, with prices falling 1.04% from an average of $1.61 to $1.59.

ContinentCost 25 March 2020Cost 22 April 2020Price increase after 1 month
North America$2.98$2.93-1.71%
South America$1.45$1.460.77%
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Not all countries saw a toilet paper price surge

Just shy of a fifth of all countries saw no change in the cost of toilet paper over the last month amid the COVID-19 crisis. Interestingly, more than a quarter of all tracked countries actually saw the price of toilet paper go down.

While these decreases generally aren't as sharp as the increases faced by many nations, a few price drops are notable. For example, Kazakhstan saw prices drop by almost 9%, from $1.28 to $1.17.

The Cayman Islands saw the next largest price drop of 7.64%, from $5.50 to $5.08 per four rolls, followed by Bermuda, where prices fell by 7.60%, from $5.00 to $4.62.

Top 10 toilet paper price decreases

CountryCost 25 March 2020Cost 22 April 2020Price decrease after 1 month
Cayman Islands$5.50$5.08-7.64%
South Africa$1.46$1.35-7.53%
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Finder tracked toilet paper price data submitted to Expatistan, an online cost-of-living calculator that relies on user-submitted pricing data to get the average cost of items around the world.

We collected these prices every week for the 90 countries tracked by the site. All prices are tracked in US dollars for ease of comparison. Percentage shifts in prices from week to week are calculated based on raw numbers, not the whole numbers used on this page.

For the continental analysis, Finder assigned countries to a continent based on data from Worldometers.

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