What does it mean?
Der Hamsterkauf is a German word used to describe the panic buying or hoarding that occurs during times of widespread fear or concern.
It comes from the verb hamstern, which means “to hoard or panic buy” since hamsters are known for filling their cheeks with food.
How is it used?
In Germany, this word has also been used to describe the rush on supermarkets that occurs before long holiday weekends when supermarkets will be closed and, as many of us living in Germany know, every Saturday night before supermarkets shut their doors on Sunday.
READ ALSO: Aldi makes Hamsterkauf joke
This word is most commonly used with the verb “machen,” as in the phrase Hamsterkäufe machen bei Knappheit, “to panic buy.”
— Berlin Polar (@BerlinPolar) February 28, 2020
“Basmati rice is hard to find.” Pictures of empty shelves in parts of Berlin.
Coronavirus leads to Hamsterkäufe in Germany
With coronavirus cases on the rise in Germany, several supermarket chains have reported cases of Hamsterkauf in their stores.
After the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in North Rhine-Westphalia on Tuesday evening, photos of empty supermarket shelves in the Heinsberg district where he lives were already popping up on Twitter Wednesday.
So sieht es gerade in einem von drei Aldis in unserem 45.000-Einwohner-Städtchen aus: Konserven und Eingemachtes Mangelware, kaum noch Ravioli, einzelne Brotsorten sind ausverkauft, keine Spaghettis mehr. Die Panik ist längst da.#aldi #coronavirus #erkrath #hamsterkauf pic.twitter.com/Q94S4bUT6f
— chriszim (@chriszim) February 27, 2020
One Aldi in Erkrath, a town of 45,000 inhabitants in NRW, ran out of lots of canned goods, pastas, and breads early on. This user later tweeted that many of the products have since been restocked.
Aldi and Lidl reported an increased demand for dried food, as well as flour, baking mix, sugar, and hygiene products. In addition, stores across the country have reported selling out of hand sanitizer and face masks in the wake of the virus.
— Lisa Didschuneit (@Kopferbrechen) February 27, 2020
This user tweeted about how bad the Hamsterkauf looked in Hilden.
Meine Mama macht immer Hamsterkäufe vor den Ferien.
My mom always panic buys before the holidays.
Normalerweise kaufen Menschen beim Hamsterkauf getrocknete Lebensmittel und Hygieneprodukte.
Normally people purchase dried groceries and hygiene products when they panic buy.