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Panic buying at grocery stores in parts of Hyderabad

Hyderabad, March 20 (IANS) Despite Telangana government not ordering closure of shops and supermarkets to prevent shortage of essential commodities, parts of Hyderabad were witnessing panic buying by people who fear a total lockdown on account of Coronavirus.

Groceries ran out of stock at leading supermarkets in some places in Hyderabad as consumers resorted to panic buying since Thursday.

With Covid-19 positive cases in Telangana mounting to 17 and the numbers are likely to go up further, many believe that a complete lockdown is imminent.

“We Indians don’t change,” lamented a customer after going around Ratnadeep super market in Toli Chowki only to find that most of the shelves in the grocery section are empty. “Sir, many items ran out of stock last night as there was huge rush,” a member sales staff informed the customer.

“There are no pulses. Many of the items we need are not available here. A bag of wheat flour is all what I got,” a woman was informing somebody over the phone.

The store staff said they were waiting for fresh stocks to arrive. Disappointed customers were seen grabbing whatever was available among the perishable items and canned food.

The situation, however, was better at Reliance store across the road as most of the essential commodities were available. However, many customers were seen buying a lot of stuff, apparently to store them for a possible lockdown period.

“Waiting for billing is taking more time than shopping,” said Pradeep Kumar, a techie, waiting in the queue at the billing counter, told IANS.

There was huge rush at leading grocery store DMart located on the same road. Families, who had already shopped for groceries for the month, returned to the store to buy stocks for the next one to two months due to coronavirus scare.

Men and women, some of them wearing masks, were seen wheeling trolleys from one section to the other to buy food grains, pulses, spices, detergents and other essentials.

Those wanting to buy online to avoid the crowd at shopping stores in view of the advisories to maintain social distancing too were disappointed. “Most of the items we required were out of stock on Bigbasket. We then tried Grofers but even there we could get only a few,” said Nasreen Fatima, a housewife in Mehdipatnam.

Huge rush of customers was seen even at the traditional grocery shops. Some of them were trying to cash in on the situation. One such leading shop at Toli Chowki Crossroads was refusing to sell 10-kg wheat flour of a popular brand to customers despite having sufficient stock. “They say the bags have been sold out. They are resorting to hoarding. Authorities should take action against such people,” a fuming customer said.

The situation was different at More Mega Store in posh Banjara Hills. There was only a handful of customers as many are apparently staying away in view of the advisories to check spread of Covid-19.

There was no panic-like situation even in the old city of Hyderabad as shops in the region had sufficient stocks to meet the sudden spike in the demand for essentials.

While announcing a series of steps to contain the spread of Covid-19, the state government has not ordered closure of shopping malls, supermarkets and other stores. “If we close them it will lead to a shortage of essential commodities and other problems,” said Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao at a news conference.

He, however, said the shops would be asked to take all steps to ensure order and prevent large gatherings.

–IANS

ms/prs

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