Panic buying amid fears of dip in supplies

Restrictions on inter-State borders may hit availability of stocks, fear traders

Panic buying was visible in several shops in the city on Saturday amid reports of restrictions on vehicular movement on the inter-State borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and ahead of the Janata Curfew on Sunday.

Long queues of customers were seen outside a few retail shops and Maveli stores from Saturday morning. Traders said people had started buying in panic over the past one week even though it was not visible owing to the availability of adequate stocks.

“Many were purchasing rice in 10 kg and 20 kg packets, anticipating a long shutdown in case of the COVID-19 situation turning worse. The demand for oil, pulses, and wheat flour had also peaked after reports of rise in COVID-19 cases over the past few days,” said a margin-free shop owner.

With stocks getting dry, traders fear it will be hard to replenish the shelves quickly as there has been a dip in supply thanks to restrictions. “I received only half the order from the main market in Aluva today. There is no guarantee that I will be able to open shutters on Monday, if the situation persists,” said a shop owner.

Meanwhile, assuaging fears of people, Kerala Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce president G. Karthikeyan said the partial closure of inter-State borders was not yet applicable to vehicles carrying essential items. “However, supplies from Maharahstra have been hit by restrictions on the border. It is hoped that the situation may improve from Monday,” he added.

On reports of panic buying, Mr. Karthikeyan said it was a natural reaction from the public, especially after news on closure of inter-State borders was flashed across the media. “We have requested our members not to close down shops after several shop owners complained of a dip in sales. A complete shutdown will add fuel to the existing situation and hence it was not practical. The government is also doing its best to ensure adequate supply of essential items,” he added.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 1:14:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/panic-buying-amid-fears-of-dip-in-supplies/article31132316.ece

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