Business Insider Edition

We visited supermarkets in four countries to see what people are 'panic buying' due to Covid-19

Hayley Hudson , Business Insider US
 Mar 05, 2020, 09:46 PM
  • Business Insider's international editors visited grocery stores and pharmacies around the world to look for signs of the coronavirus' influence on shopping habits.
  • Their photos show empty or near-empty store shelves in Japan, France, Poland, and the Netherlands.
  • In Japan, one store posted a sign limiting items to one per customer.
  • A different retailer in Japan displayed a sign teasing that it permitted "only" 10 packages of toilet paper per person.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

Photos from supermarkets in Japan, the Netherlands, France, and Poland show that coronavirus-fuelled panic buying isn't limited to a single geographic area.

While shoppers in the US flocked to the Makro-equivalent Costco over the weekend to buy hand sanitiser, food, and medical supplies, people around the world also stocked up. Local governments and authorities have said there is no need to panic.

See also: The novel coronavirus has landed in South Africa – here is everything we know

Reporters and editors at Business Insider's international sites visited local supermarkets and pharmacies to document what they saw, including dwindling supplies of pasta in France and empty toilet paper shelves in Japan.

In France, people are buying pasta and canned fish. Sales of both items were twice as high as usual on Saturday, according to Nielsen data, and the pasta aisle of an Auchan supermarket in the Paris suburbs was sparse on Tuesday night.

Source: Business Insider France, The Nielsen Institute


The cleaning supplies section looked a little bare, too.


There were lots of boxes around the store on Tuesday night. A salesperson on the floor told Business Insider that the shelves had been refilled that morning.

Source: Business Insider France


The Intermarché store next door had some boxes missing from the pasta shelves, but plenty were left for customers to buy.

Source: Business Insider France


A sign posted in a Leclerc supermarket on Sunday said, "Maybe you should stock up on rice and pasta?"

Source: Business Insider France


In Warsaw, Poland, the app for a popular drug store showed that antibacterial hand gel was running low or unavailable. Visiting a store location confirmed that sanitiser was out of stock.

Source: Business Insider Poland


On the other side of Warsaw, another store was sold out of antibacterial gel.


In the Netherlands, people are buying hand soap and sanitiser gel en masse, and retailers are restricting the amount you can buy online. Kruidvat in Amsterdam was one store where shelves were empty on a recent visit.

Source: Business Insider Netherlands


A Japanese supermarket in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture, which is south of Tokyo, sold out of toilet paper on Sunday, Business Insider found on a visit.


A sign at the supermarket read, "One item per person."


A trip to a supermarket in neighbouring Fujisawa turned up an empty hand soap aisle.


Just a few lonely packs of toilet paper remained in the Fujisawa grocery store on Sunday.


One Tokyo location of the supermarket chain AEON seemingly poked fun at the shortages. A photo circulating on Twitter among Japanese users shows a healthy supply of toilet paper at the store and a sign reading: "Only 10 each person."

Source: Business Insider Japan

More on office hygiene - here.

More on hand hygiene - here.  

More on Covid-19:

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