Retailers are running out of stock as consumers rush to buy essentials. As the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in South Africa continues to rise, store shelves are running empty as scores of people rush to buy supplies in bulk.
The number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 62 with two possible cases of local transmission being investigated. In Woodmead, north of Johannesburg, wholesalers such as Makro and Pick n Pay Hyper have run out of products such as hand sanitisers and other alcohol-based cleaning supplies.
Popped up to @WOOLWORTHS_SA to get some fresh dinner stuff. Blimey 🤦🏻♀️ lets all calm down to at least an average panic. Anyone got a good dinner recipe for a packet of lemons 😂😂 #CoronaVirusSA pic.twitter.com/mH0ov5OwdD
— Leanne Manas (@LeanneManas) March 16, 2020
At Makro, lines have been zigzagging in the entire store up to the entrance, something one of the workers describes as a first since he started working here over ten years ago. Most people could be seen with loads of handwashing products and long shelf-life foods on their trolley.
Some other products that are selling like hotcakes are multi-vitamin pills. Many stood for hours filling their trolleys as the infection rate continues to grow in the country.
One of those who were involved in the panic buy was City of Joburg former MMC for Community Safety, Michael Sun.
“I have been, for over a week, trying to go to the local pharmacy and chemists, hand sanitisers and alcohol rubs there was nothing on the shelves. We do understand that the normal soap will do the work but there are places where there’s no water,” says Sun.
Many stores have seen shelves emptied as consumers stock-up. Sun and many others have been on the line for over two hours, something that usually takes less than 30 minutes on a normal day.
“As we stand here at Makro the queue is up to the entrance and I could not find one sanitiser in the shop. So we continue looking and we will continue to wash our hands with soap,” says Sun.
Gallery images of retail shops:
However, this shopper has a different view when it comes to panic buying.
“I was moving around shops in the Joburg are it seems and hand sanitisers and products that we use for cleaning have been sold out because people are panicking. And that worries me as a consumer,” says the shopper.
Meanwhile, Massmart, the company behind Makro says it has noticed a significant increase in the demand for hygiene cleaners and products associated with the Covid-19 virus on their online store. Massmart Spokesperson, Refilwe Boikanyo says they are coping with the demand.
In this video below South Africans stock up amid coronavirus outbreak:
Nedlac warns against panic buying
The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) has warned the public against panic buying due to the coronavirus outbreak, that has left shelves in many retail stores empty.
Nedlac held an emergency meeting with stakeholders in Rosebank Johannesburg on Monday. Executive Director Lisa Seftel says panic buying will aggravate the situation.
“Very important public message is that there should be no panic buying because that will disrupt supply. The fourth area relates to the need for our workplaces to adapt. There was a consensus that we can’t regard this as workplaces as usual that we should encourage where possible working from home short time shift work online.”