NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Super Value’s owner Rupert Roberts said he was surprised by the long queues of shoppers outside his stores early this morning, as he warned against the negative impact panic shopping is having on the country.
Scores of anxious shoppers lined up outside grocery stores across the island as much as two hours before doors opened, to purchase groceries.
This comes after the prime minister reversed Monday’s decision to effect a full lockdown in New Providence, which had prompted intense public backlash over the inability to prepare for a seven-day shutdown.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, water depots, gas stations and hardware stores will be allowed to open from 6am to 9pm, until further notice.
Shoppers left stores shelves bare in many instances as workers were unable to restock in pace with demand.
Roberts told Eyewitness News that his stores are continuing to restock throughout the day.
“There may be a problem with produce,” Roberts said.
“The containers were at the warehouse. The lockdown came and we couldn’t get them to stores. The stores are filling up. They’ll be back to normal soon. We took 15 containers from Tropical. We left them at the warehouse and started distributing 6am this morning.
Roberts continued: “They have to go to 13 stores and put it out. We had a heavy Monday and with the snap decision to close we didn’t get a chance to warehouse to send them all out. We were hoping for normal business but the rush came.
He said: “I’ve tried to quiet the panic. We are open more hours and we have three months inventory. Between the warehouse and dock we have about 30 containers and we have shipments every day. The public is panicking and it’s not doing us any good. I was surprised that people started gathering by 6am. It was a rabble crowd. The police had to be called.”
Roberts said he will ask the competent authority to be allowed to remain open through Sunday due to the approaching storm.
For its part, a representative from AML Foods confirmed some stores were late to open because stock in perishable departments had been completely cleared in preparation for the full lockdown.
The stores worked late into the night and early this morning to restock, and most were open by 7am and all were open by 8am.
Minnis explained the reversal was due to public feedback and the development of a weather system that could potentially impact the country by the weekend.
In a statement today, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said it is closely monitoring a weather disturbance projected to threaten The Bahamas within the coming days.
“A broad area of low pressure located about 1,000 miles east of the Winward Islands is being monitored for possible development into a tropical storm, as environmental conditions are conducive for its growth,” NEMA said.