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Corona upsurge: Residents rush to hoard groceries after shortage rumours go viral

With another positive case of coronavirus being reported in the city, many Chennaiites have gone into panic purchase mode, buying up groceries, vegetables and other essential items in large volumes. This despite assurance from the civic body that there would be no shortage of supplies to the general public.

Corona upsurge: Residents rush to hoard groceries after shortage rumours go viral
People shop for vegetables at a supermarket in the city on Wednesday


The rush began after a WhatsApp message began making the round, stating that all vegetable and fruit markets in the city were going to close down and urged people to stock up groceries. All major markets in Koyambedu, Guindy, Mylapore and Mambalam would be closed till March 31, read the message.

Corporation officials, including the Commissioner himself, quickly denied it as false and assured that all markets and stores wouldremain open.

However, notwithstanding the clarification, the rumour had its intended effect. The public were spurred into action and began thronging the supermarkets in their area immediately. When DT Next visited Santhosh Super Market in Anna Nagar, a shopper was seen carrying at least three large bags of groceries to his vehicle.

“Even if the message is false, we cannot be assured of getting our groceries uninterrupted. Malls and other public spaces have already been closed, and I am unsure if they will soon close these shops, too. It is better to be safer than sorry,” said the person.

According to shopkeepers, the most purchased items were rice, pulses, vegetables, fruits and coffee powder. Sale of meat has been down for a week, as customers were afraid of transmission of the virus through raw meat, said a salesperson. Another shop owner said that non-perishable items like canned goods, and instant noodles and soups were also in high demand.

“It is already crowded here, and so there is a high risk of infection. I am coming now and buying all that I would need so that I do not have to come back to the supermarket,” said Shanthi, another shopper.

Interestingly, large crowds were seen more at bigger supermarkets. In contrast, smaller grocery stores reported only usual sales. The reason for this, according to Shanthi, was due to larger stock available at big-name retailers.

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