Here's what SA retailers are doing to curb coronavirus panic buying

Eyewitness News reached out to major retailers to find out what measures they were putting in place amid the panic buying to ensure stocks were available for all shoppers.

Empty shelves at a Pick n Pay store in Cape Town on 17 March 2020. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - With the coronavirus outbreak prohibiting the gathering of more than 100 people and the cancellation of many events, social media has been littered with videos and pictures of the public panic buying loads of household items.

This is being done in anticipation of any lockdowns and the restriction of movement.

Eyewitness News reached out to major retailers to find out what measures they're putting in place amid the panic buying to ensure stocks are available for all shoppers.


The Shoprite Group has appealed to customers to only buy what they need in the wake of concerns over coronavirus-linked stockpiling. It also assured customers that it was doing everything in its power to restock shelves as quickly as possible and that warehouses had stock available.

"The gaps which are now evident on our shelves and those of other supermarkets are because of the unprecedented demand as a result of fear over the effect of the coronavirus, but we have new stock arriving regularly and we are working around the clock to keep shelves stocked," Pieter Engelbrecht, CEO of the Shoprite Group said.

“Customers can be assured that we work with suppliers locally and across the globe to track and monitor orders and shipments to make the necessary provision for the current increase in consumer demand in sanitary, hygiene and baby products, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables.

“We have also increased orders, are sourcing new and additional suppliers and our warehouses have sufficient stock to replenish our store shelves. The unprecedented demand has made it difficult to eliminate gaps immediately on the shelves but we are working tirelessly to fill those shelves as quickly as possible from our warehouses.

“May I appeal to our customers to please think before they buy and only buy what their families need so that others are not left without much-needed items. If we all shop as we normally do, our stores will soon return to normal and there will not be empty shelves.

“Only if we all work together will there be enough for everyone. As retailers, we are increasing deliveries to ensure that store shelves are well-stocked again. We ask our customers to please help us to only buy what they need and not stockpile. Unfortunately rationing the sale of certain products will become necessary if consumers don’t adhere to this call.

“Our newly launched online and click-and-collect services are at full capacity and our staff and suppliers are working day and night to keep the nation supplied.

"We understand consumers' concerns but appeal to them to support each other to make sure everyone can get access to the items they need. Stockpiling will hit the most vulnerable the hardest,” he concluded.


"We are deeply saddened by the lives lost to the coronavirus. We have seen an increase in sales of certain products. We are working to meet the increase in demand and are putting in place additional measures to ensure that shelves are restocked as quickly as possible," the retailer said.

"We are closely monitoring this issue to ensure we have the best possible measures in place to safeguard our employees’ and customers’ health. The health and safety of our team members and customers is our main priority."

"We have seen a marked increase in sales of certain products in-store and online and we are working to meet the
increase in demand. In order to ensure enough products for everyone, we have set a limit of 5 units per product per customer. We will continue to replenish our products regularly. We would like to assure our customers that we
are working with our suppliers to ensure consistent supply of our products so that everyone has access to the food and essentials they need. We would like to thank customers for their support in helping us help everybody.”


Makro, which also sells many household products in bulk, said it had started enforcing customer limits not least because it was mindful that stockpiling hurts the most vulnerable consumers in our society.


Pick n Pay encouraged customers to continue shopping responsibly. Where stocks were temporarily low due to heavy customer demand, the chain would be limiting the number of certain products per customer.

Signage in-store and online will guide them on what these were.

"Understandably, as customers act on the advice about effective hygiene measures, they are stocking up on household cleaning and personal hygiene products. Some customers have also stocked up on food and other groceries in recent days. I want to encourage all customers to shop in their usual way, and resist the temptation to stock up beyond what you need," said Pick n Pay CEO Richard Brasher.

"We have an excellent supply chain and an excellent team of suppliers. We will be able to maintain a good and steady supply of food and other products in our stores. If customers help us by shopping normally, we will be able to minimise the number of times we have to limit how many of some specific products each customer can buy.

"We also know that, even without any disruption from coronavirus, many South Africans are struggling to make ends meet in a depressed economy. Rest assured we will never increase the prices of key products just because they are in particular demand during challenges like the coronavirus outbreak."