Supermarkets report panic buying over coronavirus fears
Australian supermarkets have reported a surge in demand for essential household items as concern over coronavirus drives shoppers to stock up.
In some instances, pantry staples such as pasta, beans and rice have been in low supply, as well as household items such as toilet paper, hand wash and hand sanitiser.
To date, Australia has had 34 cases of coronavirus, according to AAP, with the final two cases being the first person-to-person transmissions.
Many consumers have taken to social media to report panic buying in their area. One user claimed a supermarket in Northbridge, Sydney, was cleared out of toilet paper, hand wash, tissues and painkillers.
Both Coles and Woolworths reported increased demand for certain items but said that their distribution centres are equipped to handle the situation.
“We’ve seen a sharp increase in demand for long life pantry items and household staples in recent days, which has led to partial stock shortages across some of our stores,” a spokesperson for Woolworths said.
“We have good stock levels to draw on in our distribution centres and will continue working closely with our suppliers to maintain supply.”
The retailer apologised for any inconvenience and said its teams are working hard to replenish products as quickly as possible.
A Coles spokesperson said the retailer has increased the number of deliveries to stores this week to improve availability on popular products, such as long-life pantry staples and healthcare items.
“Like many retailers, we currently have a shortage of some antibacterial handwashes and hand sanitiser products due to high customer demand. We are continuing to work with our suppliers to maintain availability for customers,” the spokesperson said.
German discounter Aldi said it was “monitoring the situation” like other retailers.
A similar situation is severely impacting many supermarkets in Italy, where the death toll from coronavirus has risen to 52.
Sky News reports that supermarket shelves in Milan have been emptied as residents stockpile food and supplies ahead of a government-enforced coronavirus quarantine.