ATHENS – There’s no panic in the supermarkets yet in Greece as fears the Coronavirus, now called COVID-19, will spread, but shoppers have nearly cleaned out some necessities such as anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizers, and paper goods are being scooped up.
Trying to reassure customers that there will be enough food and other products on the shelves even if there’s a run on the markets, companies operating them while sales are spiking fast and hard that there’s enough to last for some time.
A sector source told Kathimerini that even if consumers flood the country’s supermarkets, there will still be enough stock for two months but there’s a change in the air inside the stores where people are casually but warily filling up their baskets, also now adding paper towels, toilet paper as well as food items such as legumes, pasta, canned and frozen food.
That has happened in two weeks with supermarkets reporting sales are brisk and one cashier at a market telling The National Herald that at one point she was seeing people bringing several carts at a time with as much as 500 euros ($559.52) of food.
That hasn’t been seen since former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA leader and then-premier Alexis Tsipras spooked the markets and people when he shut down banks for three weeks and imposed capital controls in the summer of 2015 with worries the country would leave the Eurozone.
With the New Democracy government imposing more containment measures over the COVID-19 Coronavirus, schools are also closed and the Development Ministry said that the supermarkets can handle even the increased demand for now.
Data from IRI Hellas researchers showed that in the week from Feb. 24-March 1, supermarket sales of main standardized products and apparel, homeware and other goods jumped 35.7 percent from the same week a year ago.
During a meeting at the ministry between Deputy Minister Nikos Papathanasis and supermarket chain managers, it was decided that a communication line would be kept open between the ministry and the retailers, with twice-daily updates, the paper said.