Shoppers from outside the Southern Riverina are stripping supermarket shelves of products and leaving calmer local shoppers without access to basic items, local traders have reported.
Jerilderie IGA store manager Maiwand Rasooly said he's not seeing any panic from the regular shoppers at the store, and urged all Australians to be "rational and respectful" amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our locals are coming in to do their regular shop, and they aren't able to because of outsiders coming in as groups and buying up store items,” he said.
“We request that people from the city calm down and respect our small towns.
“It is not the end of the world and these city residents have far greater supermarket options where they could wait for stock to come in.
“Our community has only one store within a 50km redius.
“Please calm down, and let us take care of our locals.”
Mr Rasooly said unfortunately there is little managers and employees can do to combat the multitude of shoppers, other than placing limits on the number of items you can purchase.
“We have limited stock as a small store, and have put limited most products to two items per customer.
“But when people come in large groups, it can be quite hard to monitor how many times they're coming in or who is buying what.
“And we are not able to post someone at the front door to check for people coming from outside town.
“Our locals are concerned; they aren't sure if they will be able to get their simple weekly groceries.
“We are having to keep specific items, in small amounts, in the back just for our locals or for emergencies, but even that goes quickly with how little we have delivered.
“We're doing this especially for the elderly members of our community who aren't able to get get down to the shops; we're trying to give priority to them as well.”
Mr Rasooly said the number of customers is unprecedented for the small store, and is even greater that the busy Christmas and Easter periods.
“Many supermarkets have stopped home deliveries, but we're trying to still provide that service for the stock items we do have.
“But if we don't have items on the shelf we can't deliver them to those who need it in our community.”
Mr Rasooley said given panic buying is being experiences all over the country, delivery schedules are not as reliable as they normally would be.
“We were supposed to receive a delivery but it was delayed a day from our warehouse because of how busy it is.
“And even when it did arrive we only got a small limited amount of stock because of the size of shop we are.
“It's mainly toilet paper and sanitizer that we've noticed leave the shelves so quickly, but I suspect long-life milk will also start to go.
“Even with the two item limit per person, if we get a bus load of 30 people come, that's 60 items off the shelf in one go, which we won't be able to sustain.”
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the reports of bus loads of shoppers going to small community supermarkets is concerning, and urged all Australians to refrain from bulk buying.
“The reports of semi-organised ‘syndicates’ coming into our region to bulk-buy or profiteer from our supermarkets and butchers is disappointing and really quite shameful,” she said.