As the coronavirus continues to impact countless aspects of day-to-day lives, it's led to a number of shortages over the past several weeks. First, toilet paper became a hard-to-come-by item, then items like eggs became in high-demand. Now, another once-ubiquitous item has seen its supply cut short: jigsaw puzzles.
It seems that jigsaw puzzles have become very sought after as more and more people the world over do their part in slowing the spread of coronavirus by staying home. Leon Stein, vice-president of marketing with the manufacturer Puzzle Master, spoke to CBC about the recent shortage, explaining that "we've never seen anything like this." He said, "We usually have, you know, six months, eight months supply. We ran out in five days. The suppliers are running out, the retailers like us are having trouble finding puzzles to order again. It seems like everybody who's staying home is ordering a jigsaw puzzle."
Dave Manga, who works for Outset Media, who makes Cobble Hill jigsaw puzzles, joked that "it's the next toilet paper." He went on to explain that the sudden surge of interest has made it impossible to keep up their stock. "We can't replenish the puzzles," Manga explained. "So every day more and more puzzles are selling out and it's been something I just couldn't have predicted."
However, he explains why they've become so popular again, given their "comforting" nature. "It's something that takes a long time too," Manga continued. "A puzzle could last you four or five days. So there's a challenge to it but there's a simplicity to it that's quite satisfying too."
Currently, social distancing guidelines are in place in the U.S. until April 30, although it's possible that could change in the days ahead. The guidelines including staying inside as often as possible and leaving only if you need essentials. When outside, it's now recommended that everyone wear a mask of some kind to continue to slow the spread. Keeping all high-contact surfaces in homes and cars disinfected is strongly recommended as well.
As of Wednesday, there have been 432,132 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., with 14,817 deaths and 23,906 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are also a number of options available for anyone who's able to help out medical personnel in their immediate community, some of which can be done while making use of self-isolation. Especially considering so many jigsaw puzzles appear to be on backorder.