Supermarkets restocking essentials to meet high demand

Being prepared: A customer queueing up to check out 16 bags of rice, among other things, at the FairPrice Hub in Joo Koon. – The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE: Toilet paper rolls have been among the items flying off supermarket shelves amid concerns over the coronavirus, even as stores work steadily to restock products and to reassure shoppers that there is no shortage.

A check of supermarkets across Singapore yesterday morning saw larger than usual crowds, although less than on Friday after the coronavirus situation alert was raised a notch from yellow to orange.

Among supermarkets visited are FairPrice, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong, Isetan, Meidi-Ya and Prime supermarkets in areas like Canberra, Serangoon North, Hougang, Orchard, Holland, Clementi and Pasir Ris.

Toilet rolls, tissue paper, rice and instant noodles were among the items most commonly seen in trolleys.Long queues were still seen, never mind the advice that people should avoid crowded places.

Staff were also busily restocking some sections.

At FairPrice in Beo Crescent, many trolleys were packed with toilet rolls.

Some attribute the rush for paper products to unsubstantiated rumours about the supply.

An administrator who wanted to be known as Moey said that people are stocking up on paper products as they are versatile and people are now wiping surfaces more.

“But my family is quite small, so there is no need to stock up too much and we should not get too stressed over it, ” she said.

Over at the FairPrice in Pasir Ris West Plaza, domestic worker Miu Miu, 30, who queued for 45 minutes to buy the last available carton of eggs, said: “So many items were missing, it’s as though the store was giving them away for free.”

Cargo driver Ben Aguilar, 33, who was shopping at FairPrice in Hougang 1, said he usually shops on Saturdays as it’s his day off.

“It has never been this crowded. I bought a lot of processed meat since all the fresh meat has already run out.”He, however, is unfazed by the situation: “It’s Singapore, it should be fine.”

Insurance agent Jeff Chiew, 29, and his wife, who visited the Sheng Siong supermarket in Canberra just as it opened, said they are stocking up on instant noodles, which they do not usually eat.

“Since everyone is stocking up, we’re also doing the same but just buying a little more for standby. Nothing too crazy, ” he said.

But not everyone is buying into the frenzy.

Mother-of-one Latifah Kamil, 31, described the situation as “ridiculous” and said she will not be buying anything she doesn’t need.

“I’m a bit worried because my kid is five months old and I will take extra safety precautions, but I won’t go out and stock up on food. It’s not like we’re stuck at home; life still goes on as usual, ” she said.

Grocery delivery slots on RedMart, FairPrice and Amazon’s Prime Now have been snapped up, as more opt to stay home or avoid crowded places.

A Dairy Farm spokesman said it has seen a significant increase in demand for delivery orders from Cold Storage and Giant over the last two weeks, and has added additional capacity to cope.

A Sheng Siong spokesman said the chain has sufficient inventory in Singapore for food supplies and toiletries to meet customers’ daily needs.

“Our staff are also working overtime to ensure stocks are replenished in time due to the demand surge, ” the spokesman said.

“There is an increase in sales, but we advise customers to purchase their daily needs only.”

A supervisor at Isetan Scotts said yesterday that the empty shelves were a result of people buying to stock up due to the orange status.

There was much less frenzied buying at wet markets and smaller neighbourhood supermarkets, though.

At the Clementi Avenue 2 market, a housewife who wanted to be known as Rokiah said she came from the nearby FairPrice because vegetables there were sold out.

“Lucky the pasar (market) here still has things I need to cook for my family, ” she said. — The Straits Times/ANN

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