Deja Vu -Shortage of Essentials as Customers Rush to Stock Up

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 Deja Vu -Shortage of Essentials as Customers Rush to Stock Up


  • Amid reports of four new cases of community transmission in Auckland, Kiwi Government was on its toes to stop the spread of the virus and announced the Alert Level 3 lockdown for Auckland, and Level 2 for rest of the nation starting 12 August 2020 until midnight of 14 August 2020.
  • The resurgence of the COVID-19 cases has fuelled uncertainty in the environment and have shaken the consumer sentiments leading to flocking of people to grocery stores (online & physical both) reflecting panic buying to stockpile the essential items.
  • The retailers are struggling to replenish the stock due to reduced levels of production from other nations hit hard by the pandemic, and smaller number of international flights coming to the Kiwi land amid border restrictions.
  • Retail NZ has urged Aucklanders to stay calm and normally shop in the current times.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been the talk of the town since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. We have already made it through more than half of 2020, yet there seems no decline in the number of coronavirus cases across the globe.

Do you remember the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak when numerous events of panic buying resulted in the deserted look of the departmental stores’ shelves and a state of anxiety for Kiwis?

Well, those days have arrived again, especially for the people of Auckland.

Although the Kiwi nation followed the pandemic guidebook adequately provided by the doctors and scientists, the nation is still grappling with curbing the spread of the virus.

New Zealand brought a halt to 102 glorious days of experiencing eased restrictions and no COVID-19 cases and reported four new cases of community transmission in Auckland, on 12 August.

As a precautionary measure to halt the spread of the virus, late at night, on 11 August 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland would be plunged back into an Alert Level 3 lockdown, and rest of the nation would witness Level 2, starting afternoon of 12 August 2020 until midnight of 14 August 2020.

Did you read; Auckland Region Enters Alert Level 3: What You Should Know

Among the numerous unwanted events that have unfolded due to pandemic, one that predominantly emerged was panic buying, where consumers swarmed to grocery stores to stockpile the essential items citing the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

Do you have enough essentials at your home?

Kiwi nation running out of goods as global pandemic disruption continues

Initially, there was a shortage of hand sanitizer, and then toilet paper. Now the shelves at the grocery stores are emptying, and one may be scratching their head and wondering: what is happening?

With the advent of COVID-19 induced lockdown, supermarkets noted a surge in buying with no signs of slowing down.

Furthermore, the retailers with online marketplace went through their share of struggles and witnessed an uptick in demand and formation of queues as shoppers rushed to stockpile the groceries ahead of lockdown.

One of New Zealand’s supermarkets, Countdown (subsidiary company of Woolworths NZ), recently, displayed a message on its website stating, “lots of people are shopping right now”.

“We’re experiencing very high demand for our online shopping service, so there is a queue. We’ll get you back into the shop as soon as we can.”

On 11 August, New Zealand’s retail trade association, Retail NZ urged Aucklanders to stay calm and normally shop as essential services such as supermarkets would still be operational even at alert level 3.

Furthermore, Retail NZ’s Chief executive, Greg Harford, added that “Under Alert Level 3, retail stores cannot open their doors to the public, unless they are essential services, but can sell online and provide contactless click and collect services. This will have a big impact on Auckland retailers. The rest of the country remains at Level 2, and retailers outside Auckland need to maintain social distancing in store. We recommend that all retailers have the official COVID-19 Tracer App QR Code on display for customers and staff.”

Some of the retailers deemed COVID-19 outbreak as a final nail in the coffin.

High demand and short supply caused by COVID-19 disruption has stressed retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers.

Furthermore, as per Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford, 41% of retailers were struggling to get the stock they needed and were experiencing stock shortages.

The retailers were noted to struggle primarily due to reduced levels of production from nations hit hard by the pandemic, and reduced number of international flights coming into New Zealand due to travel and cross border restrictions.

Before the emergence of new COVID-19 cases, a bounce in demand was also noted from the Kiwis looking to spend at their homes, as well as on discretionary spending.

The current situation of lockdown and closure of international borders have posed a serious concern for the retailers as to how to replenish the stocks in their stores and uphold their position in the marketplace.

As per Retail NZ, the return of lockdown would prove to be a blow for the industry that was yet to recover after the first phase of lockdown in March.

A glimmer of hope was witnessed recently in the sales figures for retail. A special COVID-19 Retail Radar survey by Retail NZ suggested that 65 per cent of retailers witnessed surged sales in comparison with 2019, primarily, due to a greater level of domestic spending caused by Kiwis who have returned to the nation and numerous Kiwis unable to travel abroad.

Did you read; Retail Confidence Improves in the month of July

The latest resurgence of COVID-19 cases and backward move to lockdown has been devastating, as rest of the world had been looking forward to New Zealand as a case study of how to handle the crisis, and safely recommence business operations after the lockdown period.

In times of anxiety among the people, there is an incessant need to maintain individual calm and shop normally. The current time of COVID-19 crisis is believed to be a threat to everybody. Kiwis are urged to remain empathic, stay calm, and shop normally rather than indulge in panic buying.


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