A view shows empty shelves at a Carrefour supermarket as people began stockpiling food in Gennevilliers, near Paris
A view shows empty shelves at a Carrefour supermarket as people began stockpiling food in Gennevilliers, near Paris

Spooked shoppers urged to stop coronavirus-linked stockpiling

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Mar 17, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the Covid-19 a national disaster on Sunday, South Africans spiraled into panic as they flocked to stores, stockpiling their shopping trolleys as they feared the worst. 

The Shoprite Group on Tuesday appealed to customers to only buy what they need in the wake of concerns over coronavirus-linked stockpiling. 

Shoprite also said that they customers that it is doing everything in its power to restock shelves as quickly as possible and that warehouses have stock available.

"The gaps which are now evident on our shelves and those of other supermarkets are because of the unprecedented demand as a result of fear over the effect of the coronavirus, but we have new stock arriving regularly and we are working around the clock to keep shelves stocked," Pieter Engelbrecht, CEO of the Shoprite Group said.

“Customers can be assured that we work with suppliers locally and across the globe to track and monitor orders and shipments to make the necessary provision for the current increase in consumer demand in sanitary, hygiene and baby products, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables.  We have also increased orders, are sourcing new and additional suppliers and our warehouses have sufficient stock to replenish our store shelves. The unprecedented demand has made it difficult to eliminate gaps immediately on the shelves but we are working tirelessly to fill those shelves as quickly as possible from our warehouses."

“May I appeal to our customers to please think before they buy and only buy what their families need, so that others are not left without much-needed items. If we all shop as we normally do, our stores will soon return to normal and there will not be empty shelves.

“Only if we all work together will there be enough for everyone.  As retailers we are increasing deliveries to ensure that store shelves are well-stocked again. We ask our customers to please help us to only buy what they need and not stockpile. Unfortunately rationing the sale of certain products will become necessary if consumers don’t adhere to this call.

“Our 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.

"We understand consumers' concerns but appeal to them to support each other to make sure everyone can get access to the items they need. Stockpiling will hit the most vulnerable the hardest,” he concluded.

Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel has discouraged stockpiling and bulk buying of groceries and other essentials as many South Africans fear that the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) could lead to a lockdown in the country. 

Patel said the government had reached out to the industries in a bid to quantify production in the country. He said the government was in communication with the food and beverage sectors, steel, auto, retail, pharmaceutical, mining companies and importers of the basic foods over measures to mitigate supply shortages. Patel also said the Competition Commission would be on high alert after complaints of stores hiking prices of items such as hand sanitisers. 

“We need to ensure that there is no panic buying as this may cause panic in the retail industry. We are discouraging people from rushing to shops and stockpiling on supplies,” Patel said.


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