As Coronavirus curfew lifts Sri Lanka retailers to restrict entry, limit panic buying

ECONONYMEXT – Supermarket chains in Sri Lanka will limit the number of customers entering stores in a move to control the spread of Coronavirus and will ration the issue of goods to make sure no one panic buys large volumes after curfew ends, an industry official said.

Sri Lanka’s government warned families not to send older people to shops, only one person from a house to go shopping, maintain a one-meter distance at least in a queue or with other customers and stay as little time as possible inside a store.

“What we will do in supermarkets first off is to restrict the number of people coming into the outlet at a given time to maintain social distancing.” Charita Subasinghe, Vice President of Sri Lanka Retailers Association who also heads the retail sector of John Keells Holdings told EcononyNext.

“We will get the support of the police to manage that part of it.”

“We are also going to restrict the number of units a person can buy of a product so that the customers will not go on buying for the sake of buying, therefore, everyone gets a chance to buy.

“Hopefully that is what we want to do from tomorrow is simply to restrict unnecessary buying but not because of a shortage.”

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Other than in Colombo, Puttalam, Gampaha, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Mulativu, curfew in all other areas will be lifted at 0600h and re-imposed at 1400hours.

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The supermarkets are also planning on educating their customers through social media in a move to manage panic buying.

“We will also run an educational campaign through our social media to educate our customers to buy only what they need. So that’s the plan of managing panic buying,” said Subasinghe.

Subasinghe shortly before the curfew buying has reduced compared to March 12th when authorities closed schools after the first domestic Coronavirus case was reported.

Keells Super, a top retail chain in the country saw three times the normal sales on March 12.

“Panic buying is much lesser now, maybe one and a half to two times more than a normal day,” Subasinghe said.

“However, it could also come from the fact that mom and pop stores not being open as much as the customers want.

“Nevertheless, we will need to manage the situation otherwise a person with a deeper pocket may clean up the entire store but roughly from tomorrow that’s our plan to manage the entire thing.

Subasinghe also said there is enough stock of essential items in the country other than masks.

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Petroleum Corporation said there were enough stocks of fuel in the country, one tanker was already unloading oil and another was on the way.

Sri Lanka’s top rice traders said they have 500,000 metric tons of rice in store.

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