Following a meeting with four major island supermarkets and a subsequent interview with the Bailiwick Express about the supply of food and goods and how to manage people bulk-buying items, the Consumer Council Chairman, Carl Walker, has advised that all supermarkets are working together to maintain a continual supply and filling shelves as quickly as possible.
In order to reassure customers, he advised “that there is no need for you to buy more than you need, and we ask you to shop sensibly and consider others. Buying more than you need is creating difficulty for those on limited incomes and pensions, and places extra strain on our hard-working employees to keep our stores stocked.
Under normal circumstances… I would have been on the other side of the table, representing the consumer and perhaps sometimes taking retailers to task for various things. This time, I’m sitting on the same side of the table, asking consumers, the very people we’re supposed to represent, to just please be considerate of others. Hopefully that demonstrates to the community how importantly we’re taking this and how seriously they need to take it. We’re not doing this because the government have asked us, we’re not doing this because supermarkets have asked us, we’re doing this because the consumer council is being contacted by consumers who can’t buy the food that they need to survive and to give their family. That’s the reason we’re doing it.
I’ve had people in tears on the phone saying, ‘How am I going to feed my children, when I go to the supermarket and all that’s there is the luxury, organic, super-specialist items when I’m on a low income? How can I possibly fill a shopping basket?’ The island’s not going to run out, it’s high up on the distribution list of these retailers and the shelves are being restocked all the time.”
Regarding stockpiling of goods, the Chairman advised we should be mindful that the person could be purchasing for others in self-isolation.
The suggestion of specific opening hours for elderly or vulnerable shoppers was raised to which the Chairman replied: “There was a bit of reluctance on behalf of the supermarkets because they were unsure without having proper advice whether it’s sensible to get all the vulnerable people all in the same place all at the same time. If you get over 90-year-olds all in one supermarket and one person has it, you hit them all in one go. There was that kind of reluctance until there’s a bit more advice on it, they don’t want to jump at that opportunity. We’ve opened discussions about how we bring the community together and how we can look at making sure that those who are perhaps limited on where they can go and when they can go and other restrictions in place, how we make sure that food and those goods and the things that they need are being delivered. So that’s something we’re going to meet about again hopefully next week.
The island has a great community spirit and people want to help each other and the best way they can do that at the moment is just put a lid on this panic buying.”