Photo Estralita Moses.
Pick n Pay in Willowbridge, Cape Town. Photo Estralita Moses.
  • Major retailers Clicks, Pick n Pay, and the Shoprite Group (which owns Checkers) have urged South Africans not to panic buy.
  • Items such as canned food, pasta, and toilet paper are suddenly in hot demand, and retailers all over the country have reported difficulty keeping up with a sudden surge as South Africans seek to stockpile.
  • They have plenty of stock, the retailers say, and there is no prospect of shortages.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za. 


Retailers Clicks, Pick n Pay, and the Shoprite Group, which owns Checkers, have all urged South Africans not to panic, saying they have enough stock to prevent shortages.

Hygiene products have been flying off the shelves since Covid-19 was first detected in South Africa. This week also saw a rush on canned food, pasta, and toilet paper, after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration that the outbreak is a national disaster.

Read more: Covid-19 update: get outdoors and give the domestic worker leave, SA govt recommends

Retailers in several parts of South Africa could not stay ahead of panic buying of food and other essentials.

But the retailers say they have plenty of stock and fully functional logistics systems to get food and other necessities to their customers, with no reason to believe there will be shortages beyond the stock-outs caused by panic buying.

The novel coronavirus has had no measurable impact on food production yet, and consumption has not increased.

Here’s what retailers are saying about the availability of basic essentials as South Africans stock up. 

Pick n Pay 

Pick n Pay say customers have been buying responsibly – for the most part. 

“Understandably, as they read and act on the advice they are receiving, they are buying more household cleaning and personal hygiene products, and we’ve seen demand for these products increase over the past week,” said a spokesperson.

“We would like to encourage customers to continue shopping responsibly.” 

The retailer says where stock is temporarily low due to heavy demand, it will be limiting the number of products per customer. Any such limits will be announced online, and via signs in stores.

Pick n Pay also committed not to increase prices of key products just because they are demand.

It reiterated that it has been preparing for the effects of the novel coronavirus for some weeks, and is working closely with suppliers to make sure stores are kept in stock.


Checkers and Shoprite 

The Shoprite Group is appealing to customers to only buy what they need. 

"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," said Pieter Engelbrecht, CEO of the Shoprite Group. 

Shoprite assured customers it is doing everything in its power to restock shelves as quickly as possible and that warehouses have stock available. A special Shoprite Group executive level task committee convenes every 48 hours to report on progress made during the crisis. 

Currently the group is seeing increased demand for sanitary, hygiene and baby products, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables.   

The retailer said it has increased orders and sourcing new and additional suppliers to replenish store shelves. 

“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,” said Engelbrecht.

Rationing products has been initiated on their online store 60Sixty and could potentially happen in-store as well if ‘customers don’t adhere to their call'. 


Clicks

Health and beauty retailer Clicks says that it has seen an unprecedented and sustained customer demand across many health and hygiene categories.   

Rachel Wrigglesworth, Clicks chief commercial officer, told Business Insider South Africa it has significantly increased its orders across all in-demand categories, and Clicks is working closely with suppliers to ensure that stock gets to store as quickly as possible. 

Deliveries to stores have also been increased to ensure it can meet customer demand in the shortest possible time. 

"Clicks will continue to hold prices on all hygiene products as our way of supporting our customers during these extraordinary times," said Wrigglesworth. 

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