Panic buying occurs when people buy very large amounts of a product because they expect an increase in price or a decrease in supply. The latter can be caused by a disaster (for example a hurricane or earthquake). Changes in government regulations may also cause panic buying when a certain product is banned.
The most common product that is bought in panic is food. Panic buying of food occurred in 2000, 2005 (Atlantic hurricanes) and during the 2008 global rice shortage. Panic buying of food is often accompanied by panic buying of water.
The other product that is often influenced by panic is fuel. Panic buying of fuel occurred during the 1973 oil crisis, 2000 and 2005 UK fuel protests, 2005 Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal fire and also the 2005 Atlantic hurricanes.
Examples for panic buying caused by planned government regulations include the 2008 Election/firearms panic buying and the 2009 Incandescent light bulbs panic.
The latest panic buying was experienced in Japan, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.