After the toilet paper and cooking oil shelves in supermarkets, hamster buyers now seem to have targeted German hardware stores. Apparently, numerous barbecue and camping enthusiasts are currently stocking up on liquid gas cylinders.

Purchases appear to be in excess of the seasonal surge and threaten to unbalance the cylinder deposit system. The first companies are already feeling compelled to limit the tax.

“We’re seeing customers stocking up,” says a spokesman for the Hornbach hardware store chain. Every year at the start of the barbecue and outdoor season, the demand for gas cylinders increases. A return system has been established in which customers exchange their used gas bottles for full ones and only pay for the filling.

This has worked for years, but now the system seems to be in danger of getting out of balance. “We are observing that far fewer bottles are being returned than are being bought,” the spokesman said. Apparently, customers are hoarding gas cylinders on a large scale.

“The situation is critical,” confirms Evelyn Höller at the propane Rheingas bottler in Brühl. Especially with the 11-kilo returnable bottles, the stocks are lower than ever, the prices for gas bottles and fillings have risen. The reason for this is not only the consequences of the Ukraine war, but “increasingly also the” behavior of consumers – because there is hoarding again.”

According to Höller, private gas reserves are increasingly becoming a problem for traders and suppliers. “Storage has created an artificial shortage problem in bottled gas,” she explains. Bottle containers are more difficult to obtain, and steel prices have risen.

“The barbecue season is just beginning in Germany. This means that the situation will continue to worsen,” predicts the spokeswoman. The deposit withdrawn from the dealers could even lead to underfunding and liquidity problems.

In camping forums on the Internet, outdoor enthusiasts have been speculating for a long time about a possible impending shortage of gas cylinders, which many not only use to grill, but also to heat their campers.

Some reported alleged bottlenecks and private bulk purchases as early as March. Liquid gas is also an essential element of emergency supplies in so-called prepper forums, in which certain people prepare for the end of all things without war or a supply crisis.

The consequences of the hamster mentality could now hit those who were not infected by the precautionary hysteria. The gas is not running out. But maybe soon the bottles.

According to Höller, the first providers have already started to only issue gas cylinders in exchange for the corresponding empties. A photo of a hardware store customer from Bavaria is circulating on Twitter. It shows a sign from the checkout area notifying customers of gas supplier delivery problems.

“For this reason, we have to limit the use of the red deposit system exclusively to exchange, red deposit bottles will only be issued in a 1:1 exchange from now on,” it says. Unsuspecting first-time buyers who might just want to load their new gas grill for the first time are out of luck.

The LPG Association DVFG is trying to slow down the buying panic. “We are noticing an increased demand for liquid gas,” confirms a spokesman and at the same time emphasizes that there is “no reason to hoard liquid gas bottles.” The supply of liquid gas – i.e. propane and butane – comes from western countries and is “permanently secured in Germany “.

The association recommends keeping a maximum of one bottle available as a replacement for each consumer device, and more is not permitted by law in closed rooms. According to the rule of thumb of the liquid gas association, this restriction should not pose a risk of serious supply bottlenecks. “If you grill once a week, you can get through the whole summer with an eleven-kilogram bottle.”

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