Alex Campbell, left, and Sasha Leppanen return to their apartment building after a successful trip to the grocery store that included the purchase of hard-to-find toilet paper, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Portland, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support our critical reporting on the coronavirus by purchasing a digital subscription or donating directly to the newsroom.

Question: Why has toilet paper run out during the pandemic?

Blame the empty shelves on hoarders who stockpiled the plush paper goods. During a two-day period in March, online and in-store sales shot up a whopping 845 percent as states announced stay-at-home orders, according to NCSolutions, a data and consulting firm.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

Since toilet paper is bulky and not profitable, retailers don’t typically keep a lot of inventory on hand. That makes it hard for them to keep up when demand suddenly surges.

Americans are also using more toilet paper at home now, instead of at places like offices and schools. Yet companies can’t just redirect supplies of the big institutional rolls, which are manufactured and packaged differently.

Demand has since softened and retailers including Kroger are limiting the number of rolls customers can buy at once, so it should be easier to find rolls on shelves these days.

Watch: The difference between a face mask and face covering

[bdnvideo id=”2966436″]