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Appeals to stop stockpiling

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“This is to ensure that we can offer them to everyone who needs them. Rest assured we are receiving new deliveries regularly”

AN APPEAL has been made to customers to avoid stockpiling as shelves at local supermarkets become increasingly bare.

Panic buying has become rife throughout the world with consumers stockpiling goods like hand sanitisers, toilet paper and canned foods.

In Kimberley several supermarkets yesterday already showed evidence of stockpiling by residents, with only limited or no supplies of items like bread, chicken, long-life milk and meat.

Pick * Pay supermarkets had notices urging the public to “Please think before you buy”, setting a limit of six units per customer on high-demand items like sanitising and long-life products.

“This is to ensure that we can offer them to everyone who needs them. Rest assured we are receiving new deliveries regularly,” the notice continued.

The Shoprite Group also appealed to customers to only buy what they need adding that the group was 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.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, also 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.

Meanwhile, Pick * Pay yesterday announced a special pensioners shopping every Wednesday for shoppers over 65 years.

In a statement, the supermarket said it would open all its supermarkets and hypermarkets an hour earlier every Wednesday for elderly customers to shop for their groceries and essentials.

The initiative will start today and stores will be open exclusively for customers over the age of 65 years from 7am to 8am. Customers should have a valid ID to enter the store during this time.

“A special shopping hour for pensioners was a great suggestion by our online community and we very quickly worked with our stores to make this a reality,” John Bradshaw, retail executive: marketing at Pick * Pay, said.

“All our actions are focused on supporting the well-being of our customers. We know that the coronavirus is more of a threat to older people and it is thus especially important that our older customers limit the number of times they are in busy spaces as much as possible. This dedicated shopping hour for our elderly customers will give them exclusive use of the store.”