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Panic-buying returns amid lockdown fears in Belgium

Credit: Belga

With the prospect of a possible upcoming coronavirus lockdown, Belgian supermarkets are busier than usual on Friday.

During the lockdown, many flocked to stores, panic-buying despite supermarkets guaranteeing healthy supply chains. As experts are urging the Consultative Committee, which meets today, to impose a new lockdown, people are returning to their past behaviour.

“It is now heading more towards 20% and more additional sales in the shops,” said Hans Cardyn, a spokesperson for Comeos, the federation for trade and services.

That number is still low compared to the lockdown, Cardyn said, when sales doubled compared to normal times.

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“We call on people not to hoard,” said Roel Dekelver, spokesperson of the Delhaize supermarket chain. Dekelver underlined that there is enough supply, adding that people should show solidarity and “give other people the chance to buy as well.”

Sales of toilet paper, canned foods, frozen foods, pasta, rice and food with a long shelflife have been up 30 to 40% higher in the last two weeks, according to Delhaize.

Cardyn nuanced today’s numbers by pointing out the start of the autumn holidays, and the fact that sales are up near the border with France, where a lockdown was announced, in effect from Friday until at least 1 December. The new measure requiring only one client per ten square metres also has an effect on the longer queues, according to Cardyn.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times