Mumbai: A day after PM Modi urged citizens to stay indoors to maintain social distancing as a precautionary measure against the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19), Mumbaikars thronged the departmental stores in large numbers to procure adequate quantities of sanitation products, dry foods, detergents, and household supplies.
Since Friday morning, various departmental stores witnessed a huge crowd. Mumbaikars feared the Janata curfew on Sunday will be a drill, and expected it to be a longer lockdown in the future.
“Sunday’s curfew is just a drill, a total lockdown maybe is on the cards. We are stocking for emergency use,” said Ritesh Desai, a Goregaon resident.
"All the markets are closed and I am sure in the days to come, the stores will also be closed. Thus, we are stocking enough supplies for our family," said Smriti Pandit, a localite.
Employees at the stores stated the demand was so high the store frequently ran out of shopping carts and baskets. “We have already run out of stocks for edible oils, dry foods, disinfectants, and toilet papers,” stated Gopal Sinha.
Store managers feared manufacturers would be unable to dispatch the stock materials on time. They said retailers are refraining from dispatching products to sell them at a higher prices when the demand will be higher.
“Retailers and suppliers have often turned down our offer to supply restock, so they can supply this material to the smaller towns and sell them at higher prices,” claimed a store manager of a city-based Big Bazaar outlet.
The manager said among other products, sanitiser and liquid disinfectants were in high demand. His store hasn't received any refill in the stock despite writing to their suppliers for emergency.
“Flights are cancelled and there has been a slowdown in the transport system. Often private suppliers are causing the delay to fetch a higher price,” added the manager.