13 Aug 2020

Foodstuffs says shops' grocery sales doubled throughout North Island

3:39 pm on 13 August 2020

One of the country's largest food distributors says grocery sales have doubled in Auckland under alert level 3 with a notable spike in mask purchases.

Queues at Mt Wellington Countdown on the 28th of March

Items like toilet paper, flour, rice, sanitiser and canned meals are selling faster but there has also been a notable uptick in mask sales, according to Foodstuffs. (File image) Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The usual suspects, like bread and toilet paper, are in high demand but those stocking the shelves insist there will be enough for everyone.

Chief executive of Foodstuffs North Island Chris Quin told Nine to Noon the less everyone panic buys, the easier supermarket shopping would be for everyone.

"There is just no need for people to panic and stock up. We got through a much more extended period last time and everyone got what they needed.

"The less we panic buy and stockpile and the more we just shop normally, the easier the experience is going to be for every New Zealander."

Grocery sales had doubled throughout the North Island, even though it was just Auckland under level 3, Quin said.

"I guess what that means is people are perceiving or suspecting that whatever happens next won't necessarily just be Auckland.

"I think we're all guessing ... our view is we don't know so let's just plan for what we know today."

Quin said items like toilet paper, flour, rice, sanitiser and canned meals were selling faster but there had also been a notable uptick in mask sales.

"Probably the big difference this time would be I think the message on masks has cut through and there's been quite a lot more demand for masks.

"We have millions in stock and what we're focused on right now is just getting a lot more of them out to stores ready to go as opposed to being held in our supply chain."

Customers 'yelling' at supermarket staff

First Union spokesperson Tali Williams said the most common story was workers being verbally abused by customers.

"People are yelling at them, saying 'get a move on' and 'get me this' and that kind of thing. Obviously from a supermarket worker's perspective, they're not to blame.

"They haven't created this situation and they certainly don't control the response to it. They are on the front line and doing the work many of us would not want to be doing right now."

She said it was important supermarkets had adequate security measures in place to deal with abusive customers.

"It is really important to workers that they see those security guards there and feel protected at this time. It's also really important there are sufficient staffing levels to deal with the influx of customers coming in."

Williams said the union would also like supermarket workers to be paid a 10 percent bonus during alert level 3, just as they were during level 4.

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