Panic-driven purchases by consumers have resulted in stock-outs in some retailers, however, the retail sector value chain is adequately insulated to restock food.
Picture: Doctor Ngcobo  Africa News Agency (ANA)
Panic-driven purchases by consumers have resulted in stock-outs in some retailers, however, the retail sector value chain is adequately insulated to restock food. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo Africa News Agency (ANA)

Retailers limit number of items per customer, reassures consumers that shelves will be stocked

By Dhivana Rajgopaul Time of article published Mar 18, 2020

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DURBAN - After President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the coronavirus a natural disaster and the number of coronavirus cases increase in the country South Africans have gone into a panic buying goods in bulk and stockpiling items. 

Gwarega Mangozhe, Chief Executive, Consumer Goods Council of South Africa said, "The coronavirus’ most notable impact on consumers is on the emphasis on limiting social contact, amplifying the health protocols and food safety awareness as well as the surge of panic-buying which is rooted in uncertainty". 

According to Mangozhe, panic-driven purchases by consumers have resulted in stock-outs in some retailers, however, the retail sector value chain is adequately insulated to restock food and non-food products and continue to supply consumers’ needs on an ongoing basis.

He said that they do not forecast any challenges in the provision of products and services in the industry. In addition to these measures, retailers are continuing to educate their staff and consumers about safety protocol best practices in order to ensure that everyone’s well being remains a priority at all times.

The industry has plans in place to ensure that stock is sufficiently provided and retailers will continue to monitor consumer purchases and implement solutions that meet demand successfully.

In a press statement the Shoprite Group said that they have action plans range from special arrangements for conducting meetings and receiving visitors at its offices and information campaigns to employees at store and office level, to buying strategies to ensure adequate quantities on products currently in high demand as a result of the escalating number of people testing positive for Covid-19.

The company is also appealing to customers to only buy what they need in the wake of concerns over coronavirus-linked stockpiling. It also assures customers that it is doing everything in its power to restock shelves as quickly as possible and that warehouses have stock available.

According to the retailer, their newly launched online and click-and-collect services are at full capacity and our staff and suppliers are working day and night to keep the nation supplied.

Pick n Pay has also seen an increase in sales for personal hygiene and household cleaning products as well as dry groceries. 

"As they read and act on the hygiene advice on coronavirus, customers have been buying more personal hygiene and household cleaning products. We have also seen dry groceries sales increase, in some cases significantly, over the past few days. Where stocks are temporarily low due to heavy customer demand, we have limited purchases per customer. We are working closely with our suppliers to make sure we have enough products in our stores so customers can get what they want and need," said the retailer.

Pick n Pay's online service has been in heavy demand in recent days. The retailer said that they are working hard on how they can extend its benefits to more customers, including by increasing the click-and-collect offer, which has proved a popular tool in other countries dealing with the outbreak of coronavirus.

The retailer also reassured customer that they will never increase the prices of key products just because they are in particular demand during challenges like the coronavirus outbreak.  

Rachel Wrigglesworth, Clicks Chief Commercial Officer in a press statement said, "In response to the unprecedented demand and to help give everyone access to essentials, we are limiting products to 6 items per customer in store. This is on all our front shop products including hand sanitisers, toilet paper, vitamins, children’s medicine and pain relief". 

"We have significantly increased our orders across all high-demand categories and are working closely with suppliers to ensure that stock gets to stores as quickly as possible. Furthermore, we have increased the number of deliveries to our stores to ensure we can meet customer demand in the shortest possible time," added Wrigglesworth.  

Woolworths said that they have seen a marked increase in sales of certain products in store and online and are working to meet the increase in demand. In order to ensure enough products for everyone as well as set a limit of 5 units per product per customer. 

"We will continue to replenish our products regularly. We would like to assure our customers that we are working with our suppliers to ensure consistent supply of our products so that everyone has access to the food and essentials they need. We would like to thank customers for their support in helping us help everybody," said the retailer. 

While consumers are panic buying goods and stockpiling goods because of the coronavirus it is important to note the consequences that these shopping sprees can have on consumers. 

John Manyike Head of Financial education at Old Mutual said that because of the coronavirus frenzy people people will have a propensity to make rash decisions like buying unnecessary items, stockpiling and buying in bulk.

Manyike said that it is fine to buy hygiene products but warned that perishable items will not last in the long run.

He said that an interesting observation one can make is, with South Africa being a debt-stricken country, where are people getting money to stock up this way?

"We all know that it is the middle of the month and people may not have money during this time period and borrowing money for things like groceries is never a good idea," said Manyike. 


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