South Africans are flocking to stores to bulk buy necessities, while others are preparing for the national lockdown by buying entertainment items to keep them busy during the 21-day period.
City Press spoke to various retail outlets and their consumers about their expectations for the lockdown which comes into effect at midnight on Thursday, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Victoria Onyeagbau, who lives in Ormonde with her husband and two children, told City Press that she was bulk buying at Jumbo Cash and Carry to ensure she stays indoors for the entire lockdown period.
She said she was only buying basic necessities for her family during the 21-day lockdown.
“We won’t be able to go to the shops and we are just trying to make sure that we have everything that we will need at home. I realise that the president did say that essential places like grocery shops will be open, but in situations like these things can change in a split second.
“We are still anticipating what might happen next. The way this virus is spreading who is to say that there might not be a call for everything to be shut down? It is important to be prepared for anything. We are not sure of anything right now, so we must be prepared for whatever,” said Onyeagbau as she unpacked her groceries before the cashier, while signaling for her son to hurry up with unloading items from the trolley.
Among the items purchased by Onyeagbau were cereal, milk, sanitiser and soap.
“As you can see, most of what I have is foodstuffs,” she said.
“Food is very important. I also have a lot of sanitary items like soap because we have to constantly wash our hands and I need to have soap.”
“What will happen if shops run out of supplies and important things that we need? We have children that we have to think of and it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
“[I'm] buying six packets of breakfast porridge, I would have bought two on a normal day. I guess to some extent I am panic buying because I am buying more than I usually would. But for me, this is the best course of action in preparation for whatever might happen.”
“I work in the health sector so I will be going to work during the lockdown, but I must make sure that my family who will be at home, have what they need.”
“As a health practitioner, I am doing what I have to do, in terms of my job. It is an obligation to the people, to the nation. We as health practitioners are just doing what we have to do because during this time, it is us who have to be at the forefront.”
Jumbo Cash and Carry employee Steven Baloyi said the store had seen a huge increase in sales of food items, as well as sanitisers, soap and products like Dettol and wipes.
“We have seen a very high increase in the number of individuals who come in now. I think that is very good because it means that people are seeing the effects the coronavirus has and will have and are taking the measures needed to play a role in possibly curbing the spread of the virus,” said Baloyi.
Baloyi walked around, instructing customers approaching paypoints to “give each other space” and to not “queue on top of each other”.
“We have to be there to provide the community and society at large with what they need to be okay during this difficult time,” he said.
For some South Africans it was not just about food but also finding other means to ensure they don’t get bored during the lockdown.
Standing in the long queue outside a Makro in Johannesburg, Gareth Prout (30) chatted with his cousin about their planned purchases in preparation for the lockdown.
He told City Press that “today we are not really doing any panic buying since the stores are going to remain open during the lockdown. But what we decided was to come and buy some outdoor and indoor games like a soccer ball, tennis ball, and table tennis equipment so we have something to do while at home”.
Prout said he had been in the queue – which stretched from the entrance to the rear end of the building – for 30 minutes to ensure he gets everything he came for.
“We are just making sure that we are not touching anyone. We are sanitising our hands every chance we get and we are keeping our distance from everyone else,” he said.
While in the queue Prout, like other customers, was offered a squeeze of hand sanitiser.
“There is a guy who passes by every ten minutes with sanitiser. So that is a good thing. I think they are also letting in about 100 people at a time to avoid congestion inside,” said Prout.
Sisters Karabo and Setsile Maake were jovial as they loaded their goods into the boot of their car.
“We got food and we got something to drink as this is going to be a very dry spell. Not everything is essential, but a drink can become very essential,” they said, adding that there was nothing unusual about their buying.
“We were not panic buying but just getting things so that we can stay indoors. We normally buy at Marko and we are just doing the usual.”