Empty shelves: Countdown tight-lipped on Coronavirus panic

Coronavirus hysteria saw many Auckland supermarkets overwhelmed at the weekend.

The buying sprees followed the announcement of the country’s first confirmed case of the virus.

A spokesperson for Foodstuffs, which has brands including Pak’nSave, New World and Four Square, told the Times its teams had been working around the clock for the past 72 hours “to ensure we can continue to feed New Zealand and look after our people”.

The hardest-hit stores were those in the greater Auckland area and, as a result, Foodstuffs is prioritising deliveries to these stores over the next couple of days.

“We delivered hundreds of additional pallets over the weekend and we estimate that we completed more than 100,000 additional case picks this past weekend,” the spokesperson said.

“We have seen in-store and online shopping activity soften since Sunday morning and we are now focused on replenishing stores’ stock and supporting our people who have been working tirelessly to meet customer demand.

“Our out of stock items are ones that are experiencing significant global demand, including hand sanitiser and face masks. We are working with vendors to replenish supply of these specific items, but as of right now, we don’t have an estimated timeframe on when stores’ stock will be replenished. We will pass stock straight through to stores when available.”

Many household essentials saw a significant increase in sales over the weekend including toilet paper, bread and milk, Foodstuffs said.

“These products are made or manufactured in New Zealand and are not under threat and shoppers should look to shop for these items as they normally would. Stockpiling puts stores under unnecessary pressure and delays when they can replenish stock and limits availability for other shoppers.

“Right now we are focused on supporting our stores’ replenishment efforts and making sure essentials are available for all shoppers.”

Meanwhile Countdown chose not to comment. “We don’t think it’s helpful for New Zealanders at the moment,” a spokesperson told the Times.

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