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Run on hand sanitiser, toilet paper and bleach amid panic-buying

MAKRO MADNESS: People stocking up on tin foods, pasta, toilet rolls and cleaning goods at Makro, Port Elizabeth, yesterday
MAKRO MADNESS: People stocking up on tin foods, pasta, toilet rolls and cleaning goods at Makro, Port Elizabeth, yesterday
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Toilet paper, bleach and hand sanitiser —  these are the products most sought after by Bay shoppers as they follow in the footsteps of residents in other countries who have been panic-buying for weeks.

Port Elizabeth Makro assistant manager Jerome Mitchell said customer numbers had more than doubled over the past few days as new coronavirus cases emerged — and surged further after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a state of disaster on Sunday night.

Mitchell said that the store, on average, had between 1,500 and 1,800 customers a day, but the numbers had now increased dramatically.

He said at least 4,500 shoppers visited the store on Monday.  

“This was not your normal buying pattern, this is definitely panic-buying.

“The most popular items were toilet paper, hand sanitiser, handwash gels and cleaning aids such as bleach, Dettol, Handy Andy and a huge amount of canned food.

“We are in close contact with our head office in Johannesburg and they are seeing queues that snake twice around the shop.

“This just goes to show that this isn’t your normal kind of shopping,” Mitchell said.

MAKRO MADNESS: People stocking up on tin foods, pasta, toilet rolls and cleaning goods at Makro, Port Elizabeth, yesterday. Some people queued to pay for hours
MAKRO MADNESS: People stocking up on tin foods, pasta, toilet rolls and cleaning goods at Makro, Port Elizabeth, yesterday. Some people queued to pay for hours
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

He said people were patient but specific about what they wanted.

The store had three teams to ensure the shelves remained stocked.

Though hand sanitisers were out of stock, this should be resolved shortly.

Kaylin van Rooyen, who was buying wet wipes, said she was not really afraid of the coronavirus but was taking precautions by stocking up on certain items such as hand wipes.

A rep who distributes Dettol products said even the company’s CEO had jumped in to help with the distribution process as its products flew off the shelves.

The man, who asked not to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the media, said the demand for handwash gels and hand sanitisers was huge.

MAKRO MADNESS: People stocking up on tin foods, pasta, toilet rolls and cleaning goods at Makro, Port Elizabeth, yesterday. Some people queued to pay for hours
MAKRO MADNESS: People stocking up on tin foods, pasta, toilet rolls and cleaning goods at Makro, Port Elizabeth, yesterday. Some people queued to pay for hours
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Many people were also stocking up non-perishable foods such as rice, spaghetti and macaroni.

The Atrium Pick n Pay manager Cyril Uithaler said hand sanitisers were the most sought-after product.

“Our toilet paper has not sold more than usual.

“We have also not seen people stocking up on non-perishable foods. Apart from the sanitisers, there hasn’t been much change,” Uithaler said.

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