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How to shop during the coronavirus pandemic

With plenty of talk around social distancing and panic buying, we break down how you can shop responsibly during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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With media reports of panic buying and the concern to keep social distancing, we look at how you can shop safely and responsibly at this time.


What kinds of products are hard to come by?

As many prepared to stay at home in Level 4 on 25 March, supermarkets and grocery stores saw some panic buying of certain products. While we didn’t experience the aisles of empty shelves that were seen in other countries, you may have found a low stock of things like pasta, rice and canned vegetables. Toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes were in high demand and some retailers showed that they were out of stock of items like rubbing alcohol.

Before you run out and stock up though, it’s important to remember these things:

New Zealand is not about to run out of food (or toilet paper), and the Government and major supermarkets are encouraging Kiwis to shop normally. Supply routes are still open from overseas and local suppliers are operating as normal.

Power will not be shut off, which means that both fresh and frozen food products are still available to buy.

If you do see empty shelves, it’s simply because the store has not been able to restock just yet.


What are retailers doing to help shoppers at this time?

To help put a stop to any panic buying that may occur, some stores have placed a limit on in-demand products to ensure that there is stock available for other shoppers. Countdown now has a limit of three per customer on items like toilet paper, hand sanitiser, facial tissues, pasta, rice and paracetamol. Plus, a limit of one for face masks.

Supermarkets may also reduce their opening hours so that they have enough time to restock shelves. Make sure to check the opening and closing time of your local store if you normally shop early in the morning or late at night.

Although Countdown is shutting its doors at 9 pm, opening hours remain the same. Check out its website to check your local store’s hours

With Auckland at Alert Level 3 from 17 August 2020, New World is encouraging its customers in the Auckland area to wear face masks while shopping and to not panic buy. There may be limits on high demand items.

Pak’n’Save requests that shoppers maintain social distancing in its stores and has reintroduced physical distancing signs. It encourages those in the Auckland area to nominate one shopper per household and to shop normally.


How should you shop during a pandemic?

While panic buying is neither necessary nor encouraged, it is a good idea to have enough provisions to last you through a potential 14-day quarantine period. This method could mean buying a few extra items each time you shop and cooking and freezing meals in advance, in case you become ill at a later time.

If Kiwis are asked to stay home to help stop the spread of Covid-19, it may be a good idea to shop online where you can. Countdown has online shopping with home delivery across the country and New World delivers to many North Island locations. Supermarkets may experience more bookings than usual so you may not find a delivery spot to book for a few days or as long as one week.

As an alternative, Countdown, New World and Pak’n’Save have “Click and Collect” so you can order online and pick up your groceries from your local store.

There is also a range of New Zealand businesses that can deliver meat, bread, produce, beverages and alcohol right to your door.

If you do need to shop in-store, you can try googling your local supermarket to see which hours are the quietest and aim to shop then. You may find that shopping first thing in the morning after shelves have been stocked means that you don’t miss out on the items you need. It’s also a good idea to wipe down trolley and basket handles with disinfectant wipes before using them if you can. Some supermarkets are cleaning these at the entrance but you may want to carry a pack with you.


How can those who are elderly or disabled shop during this time?

Countdown implemented a priority assistance service for online deliveries so that those most vulnerable can get their groceries delivered.

If you are unable to get to your nearest store or shop online, ask a friend, neighbour or family member for help. Alternatively, Driving Miss Daisy may operate as an essential service, with reliable police-checked drivers across the country who can collect essential items and deliver them to your door.


How can someone in self-isolation or those with COVID-19 shop?

If you are in self-isolation or have contracted COVID-19, make sure you respect the isolation terms. You can shop online or ask a friend or family member who is not in isolation to deliver groceries and medication to your home. To reduce human contact and prevent the risk of infection to other people, your groceries can be left at your door.

Countdown and New World have a contactless delivery option when you shop online. You can nominate a place on your property for your groceries to be left and the driver sends you a text once they have been dropped off.

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