Toilet paper alternatives including bidets were the big winner of Covid lockdown, according to new research about Australians' Google searches in 2020.
The phrase rose 36,100 per cent from 50 to 18,100 searches when comparing March 2019 with March 2020, Google Search data collated by digital marketer Jared Bennett shows.
The traditional "toilet paper" phrase rose only 27,627 per cent in the same period, from 4400 to 1.2 million searches.
Of those alternatives, paper towel topped the list (1642 per cent) followed by bidets (1263 per cent), baby wipes (658 per cent) and tissues (652 per cent).
"Yes, toilet paper gets its own section in this report - with an astronomical spike in searches in March 2020," Mr Bennett said.
"Whilst lockdowns and border closures have certainly decimated the search interest in some industries, others have experienced never seen before levels of demand."
Dr Alex Russell, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at CQUniversity's psychology department, said people had different reasons to panic buy toilet paper and its alternatives.
"People wanting to feel in control is probably a large part of it, but I'm not really aware of any research that can confirm that," he said.
"As you might imagine, there isn't a huge amount of public research funding to examine toilet paper buying."
As you might imagine, there isn't a huge amount of public research funding to examine toilet paper buying.- Dr Alex Russell, CQUniversity
Dr Russell said it was "natural instinct" as most people were just trying to look after themselves and their families.
"Is it herd mentality? Sure, everyone saw what others were doing and thought they should do it too," he said.
"But there were also perfectly legitimate reasons to conform to the herd here because running out of toilet paper wasn't really an ideal situation for anyone.
"Increases need to be considered in terms of the base and since that was small, a huge increase will lead to an inflated percentage increase."
Another big winner was the federal government's HomeBuilder, rising 1021 per cent from 6600 in June 2019 compared with 74,000 12 months later.
Housing minister Michael Sukkar said the program "gave a shot of confidence to the residential construction sector during a time of great uncertainty for many Australians".
"It also kept up to a million people in jobs in the housing industry," Mr Sukkar said.
"The success of HomeBuilder has been built off the back of the hard work of our builders and tradies at a period when their jobs and livelihoods were under serious threat from the pandemic-induced recession."
The search for the program coincides with national new home sales in 2020 increasing by 32.5 per cent compared with 2019.
Interstate migration also grew with "leaving Melbourne" and "moving to Queensland" rising between 1300 and 1500 per cent in August 2019 and 2020.
Search for "interstate removalists" for the ACT grew 27 per cent.
Flights, cruises, shopping centres and gyms were some of the sectors that had decreased searches.
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