THERE is a regular pattern to the Fly’s weekend routine and it starts on Saturday morning. There’s no lounging around, no lie-in. No, I’m up with like a lark and out of the house to do the ‘big shop’.

And it’s not a haphazard process. Before I collect all my carrier bags, grab my car keys and prepare to do battle, I go around the house and carefully weigh up exactly what it is we need for the week.

And yes, I do write myself a comprehensive shopping list.

My supermarket of choice is Asda, for no other reason than it’s the closest to where I live.

So we come to last Saturday. There was nothing unusual. I did my rounds of the house, drew up my list and set out with a spring in my step and hope in my heart.

Oh how quickly that hope was dashed.

I think I must have missed the news that the zombie apocalypse was upon us because that could be the only explanation for what greeted me...empty shelves. Yes, it would appear shoppers had gone into full-blown coronavirus hoarding mode.

But what intrigued me is the sort of stuff that panicking people have decided is essential to see them through when Covid-19 finally sweeps into town.

I can accept worried shoppers buying a couple of extra tins of baked beans, a few extra packets of pasta.

And given we’ve all been urged to make sure we wash our hands thoroughly and often, I wasn’t surprised to see the hand gel, hand wash and soap shelves stripped bare as though a plague of very hygienically-challenged locusts had passed through.

Nor was it any great shock to see empty boxes where the paracetamol should have been.

But toilet rolls? Really people, what are you playing at? On Saturday morning at Asda Westbrook, there wasn’t a single sheet of toilet paper to be had, not one.

But what is it that’s driving people to clean out supermarkets of loo roll around the world?

Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos is expert in consumer and behavioural science at the University College London and explained to Sky News what we are now witnessing is the difference between what he calls ‘disaster panic’ and ‘general panic’ and toilet paper is the poster boy for general panic (that’s a phase I never thought I’d write).

He said: “Disaster panic is normally for something you have more information on, such as a natural disaster.”

General panic is different, he said: “In public health issues we have no idea about the time or intensity and we get messages on a daily basis that we should go into panic mode that we buy into more than we need to. It’s our only tool of control.”

And psychologist Katharina Wittgens told Sky News it is more obvious when an aisle of toilet paper is empty, compared to other smaller items, which leads to the craze over the item intensifying.

But it’s the views of psychologist Emma Kenny that resonated with me when she said: “It’s really interesting to see people are stockpiling things like toilet paper...that’s not going to get you from A to B in a life-or-death situation – food is what people would need.”

The thing is, the people who started the panic buying in the first place may have been acting irrationally, but once it starts, those who can see shortages on the shelves and can see stuff starting to run out are acting perfectly rationally, in my opinion.

In a way, I find the whole situation darkly amusing but there is a dangerous, serious side to all of this as soap, medicines and hand sanitisers become unavailable because of selfish stockpiling, it puts at risk those who are in immediate need, those with compromised immune systems and underlying health problems.

But I bet all those people who still have their secret Brexit stockpile are feeling a little bit smug right now.