Michele du Plessis
Shoppers have been stripping shelves bare in panic buying sprees, preparing for possible isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Because of recession and panic buying caused by the outbreak of Coronavirus, we are paying attention to vulnerable members of society – especially those who are food insecure. We are also planning to deepen the informal traders and tuckshops owners in the township and rural areas.
On the 16th March, for the first time in this country, we saw commodities such as sanitizers and detergents including food disappearing from the shelves as consumers bought goods in bulk in anticipation of shortages that might be caused by lockdowns. We have also been inundated with calls from concerned community members who complained about a sudden increase in prices,” Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said on March 20th.
“It has been agreed that moving forward, retailers will put up notices in their stores advising customers of purchasing limits to prevent panic buying. The parties have also agreed that suppliers will ensure consistent availability of products.
We welcome the fact that both the government and retailers have agreed on the measures that include applying customer purchasing limits on in-demand products. The National Consumer Commission and the Competition Commission will ensure close price monitoring to protect consumers during this period,” Dube-Ncube continued.
Since the first coronavirus cases, a rush on shops, with customers piling trolleys with wipes, sanitizer, and staples like rice and long-life milk. To ensure more people have access to everyday essentials, “Shoprite said it is now rationing the sale of toilet paper, tissues, wipes, liquid soap, hand sanitizer as well as some tinned foods, cereals, antiseptic disinfectant liquids, medicines and vitamins.” Shoprite has also allocated special till points for pensioners, people with disabilities and vulnerable people at its Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets.
Woolworths introduced a limit of only three items per product and per customer on every grocery line, and Massmart’s Makro has also restricted purchases of essential items like rice, frozen chicken and toilet paper.
Information from Reuters and SA Government