19 Mar 2020

Countdown rations some products to stop panic-buying

From Lately, 10:28 pm on 19 March 2020

With panic buying because of Covid-19 happening in New Zealand, Countdown introduced limits on some items.

The supermarket chain says it is selling triple the amount of some goods that it would normally sell in a week and can not get some items onto shelves quickly enough if people keep buying at the current rate.

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Photo: Supplied

Countdown's general manager for health and safety Kiri Hannifin told Lately we're shopping as if we have a much larger population.

“We've got 4.7 million Kiwis and we're shopping like there’s 7 million of us. So that's a hell of a demand on our supply chain.

“We're selling toilet paper in one day that we’ve done in a week.”

Hand sanitisers have now run out, she says.

“We just simply don't have any left in the country. They’re on order so will arrive sometime later this month, but there is  none left, and then we saw demand go to anti-bacterial wipes and toilet paper.

However Hannafin says there is absolutely no need to panic.

“We make a toilet paper in Zealand, we've got you covered.

"It's all good, there’s enough to go around, we just don't need to buy a week's worth in one day.”

As for food, again, there is no need to panic, Hannifin says.

“New Zealand is a net producer of food. We are so blessed with the abundance of food we produce every year.

“We've got so much fruit and vegetables 12 months a year, we produce meat and milk and dairy; we are never going to run out of food, we can feed you New Zealand.”

The supermarkets simply need time to replenish their shelves, she says.

“If you think about a supply chain, supply chains love steady and strong demand and we are seeing Christmas level demand every single day.”

This panicked atmosphere is tough on staff, she says.

“If you think about what it's like to work in a panicked environment every day. It's quite draining and stressful for our team. So be kind, be decent to them, they are our heroes at the moment, they are incredibly hard working and they will look after our country in the coming months.”

Hannifin’s message is shop as you would normally.

“If you shop as normal like we always do, then we will have full shelves in both our brand and Foodstuffs … there is absolutely no need to buy three flours or three cans of baked beans - we've got you covered, just please behave normally.”