As photos of empty supermarket shelves circulate online and the government has announced measures to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), people have started hoarding and panic buying.
Several supermarket chains emphasise that all stores have sufficient stock, as do the distribution centres. Hoarding and panic buying "really is not necessary," they have repeatedly stressed.
On Thursday, the Colruyt supermarket chain published a statement on its website, emphasising that "all Colruyt Group food stores (Colruyt Laagste Prijzen, OKay, Bio-Planet, Spar Colruyt Group and Cru) will remain open" and that the Group makes "it a top priority to ensure your food supply at all times," adding place orders via the online shopping service also remains possible.
Doe ik iets verkeerd?Hoeveel kilometer toiletpapier gebruiken jullie per maand ongeveer? pic.twitter.com/S6pmGtcOOE — Bosmans J. (@Luchtbakker) March 13, 2020
Translation: "Am I doing something wrong? How many kilometres of toilet paper do you guys use per month?"
However, on Friday morning, photos and videos circulated on social networks of empty supermarket shelves, long lines at the entrance of a Colruyt in Antwerp, and many people buying carts full of toilet paper. On Twitter, the supermarket chain again asked its customers to remain calm.
Beste klanten,We vragen je om samen de rust te bewaren. Het is niet nodig om overhaast naar onze winkels te komen. Alle Colruyt-winkels zijn en blijven voor jou open volgens de gewone openingsuren. Dus ook op zaterdag. — Colruyt (NL/FR) (@colruyt) March 13, 2020
Translation: "Dear customers, we ask you to remain calm. There is no need to rush to our stores. All Colruyt stores are and will remain open to you during normal opening hours. Also on Saturdays."
Er is voldoende voorraad en al onze medewerkers vullen de rekken continu aan. Door de drukte vraagt dat hier en daar wat extra tijd. Bedankt voor je begrip daarvoor. Het is onze absolute prioriteit om jou van dienst te zijn en we blijven je welkom heten in onze winkels.— Colruyt (NL/FR) (@colruyt) March 13, 2020
Translation: "There is sufficient stock and all our employees are constantly filling up the shelves. Because of the rush, this requires some extra time here and there. Thank you for your understanding. It is our absolute priority to be at your service, and we will continue to welcome you to our stores."
Supermarkets are currently selling between 15 and 20% more dry food and products with a longer shelf life, like rice, pasta, preserves, flour and coffee, than normal, according to trade association Comeos, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.
Several supermarkets have even started to take measures to combat hoarding. The Albert Heijn store in Zaventem, for example, no longer allows customers to buy the same article more than six times. In Brussels, the police of the South police zone had to intervene on Friday in a Colruyt in the Anderlecht municipality, following an argument between customers, reports De Standaard.
Also on Friday, the FPS Public Health reassured people that all stores will remain open on weekdays, and supermarkets and
Kan ik nog boodschappen doen? Ja! Op weekdagen zijn alle winkels open, in het weekend enkel voedingszaken en apotheken. Ook de wekelijkse markt blijft open. In het weekend zullen er alleen voedingskramen staan. Bescherm jezelf, zo bescherm je de anderen! #covid19 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/AY0VU44x1S— FOD Volksgezondheid (@be_gezondheid) March 13, 2020
Translation: "Can I still do groceries? Yes! All shops are open on weekdays, at weekends only food stores and pharmacies. The weekly market also remains open. On weekends, there will only be food stalls. Protect yourself, this way you protect the others!"
The Brussels Times