Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — Supermarket operators have moved to avert panic buying, assuring Metro Manila residents there are enough stocks in their inventory amid the implementation of the strictest quarantine measures this week.

Over the weekend, long lines quickly formed at a number of major supermarkets in Makati and Quezon City, as panicky shoppers picked up information from social media even before the official announcement was made about government’s plan to revert to enhanced community quarantine status in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces.

The notice on Saturday was too short — just two days before the ECQ rules took effect on Monday. The weekend was reminiscent of the pain from last year’s ECQ that brought public transport and the entire Metro Manila to a standstill.

“Siguro kung walang sasakyan lalakarin ko na lang (If there’s no public transport, I will just walk to work),” a mall employee said.

Another supermarket worker said: “Magre-rent kami ng pwedeng mapagrentahan ng motor (We’ll rent a motor bike to get to work).”

Supermarket operators, large and small, were quick to fill the shelves.

“It’s too early to say na mauubusan ng stocks (It’s too early to say that stocks will run out) or to limit the number of items we can sell like alcohol or canned goods,” said Steve Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association.

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan, meanwhile, said: “We’re operating our shopping centers but only for essential goods.”

“There is really no need to panic-buy. There’s enough for everyone. We will replenish our shelves continuously,” he assured, pointing out that he personally made the rounds of SM stores over the weekend to check operations.

Retailers like SM are debuting online services with a wider reach, testing what options work and will be snapped by a bigger market. The trend: Less in-store visits as it’s hard to see a return back to the old ways anytime soon.

“You go to Marugame (Udon) or you go to Wildflour and you wanted to order something that is housed in SM Supermalls, we will provide it for you,” Tan said.

Unlike the draconian rules when ECQ was first imposed in March last year, quarantine passes are no longer a requirement to get into malls and grocery stores.

Except for supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware outlets, most stores will be shuttered.

The citywide curfew starts at 6 p.m, so malls end the day at 5 p.m.

Retailers say they have been down this road before. It’s a more familiar ground they are navigating together with shoppers, hoping to soften the pandemic’s blow.

Source: CNN Phils