The psychosis unleashed by an alleged forced quarantine led the majority of consumers to make massive purchases of all kinds of products
Changuitos crowded with merchandise, semi-empty and even empty gondolas, fights between clients for the last alcohol in gel or for a roll of toilet paper, endless lines of more than 100 meters to pay in the boxes, were among others, the postcards that were lived during this last weekend in hypermarkets, in the main branches of supermarket chains and even in neighborhood stores and local businesses.
Images that until now were given in European countries or the United States and that have circulated on social networks have now been repeated in Argentina.
A postcard that was not caused by a sudden reactivation of the Argentine economy or by official policies adopted by the government headed by Alberto Fernández.
Nothing of that. The cause, unfortunately, was the fear of coronavirus, which fueled the days of highest consumption in the last two years, with sales higher than those that occur on special dates such as Christmas, as confirmed by the President himself at a press conference.
The scenario, which is being repeated daily, is due to the petty reaction of the majority of Argentine society to this virus and the fear of a forced quarantine that has not yet been announced by the Government.
Lack of solidarity with the rest of society, disinformation and even an unjustified psychosis blew up the sale of products like gel alcohol, toilet paper or soaps, the most in demand since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus as a pandemic.
However, other types of food have also begun to accumulate due to the fear and paranoia in the face of the growing expansion of this virus that is generating a risky fear of not being able to leave the home which at the same time more frequently causes supermarkets with empty gondolas.
A guideline of “save yourself who can” adopted by a large part of the Argentine consumers who came out en masse to collect everything that entered a changuito or the trunk of a car.
Supermarkets and wholesalers, full
Chains like Walmart, Carrefour, Coto, Jumbo and Disco, as well as branches of wholesale supermarkets such as Vital, Maxiconsumo and MakroAmong others, they were filled with compulsive shopping almost as if heralding the end of the world or the beginning of a world war.
“The panorama is shocking with people who turn to the purchase of any type of product en masse, even those who do not need it in the short term but who buy it because of doubts,” they reflected from one of those wholesale chains.
In fact, some economic consultancies assure that Sales increased almost 120% these days compared to the previous two months due to a consumer excess caused by fear of the coronavirus.
According to experts, consumers follow behavior guidelines that, in crisis cases, are altered, with extreme patterns in the face of a possible situation of food shortages, as well as other items such as those in the health sector, chinstraps, disinfectant gels and toilet paper.
In the local case, psychosis is mixed with the different proposals of the retail groups to promote sales in a context that continues to be recessive and in which the fight is customer by customer based on offers, promotions and aggressive discounts.
From Walmart, for example, they admitted a strong increase in sales, especially during the last two weekends, with products that could not be replaced in the shelves with the same speed that demand increased.
However, in the North American chain of origin they clarified that until now there is no danger of shortages but rather longer delays than usual in the replenishments due precisely to the greater demand.
They also reported the preventive measures that are being taken to avoid the spread of the virus, such as the reduction in the cost of home delivery to avoid the physical presence of customers.
Further, quotas for online sales doubled, limiting customer entry to only 200 people, the signage of the floors in the waiting places for access to the cashier lines with spaces of one meter between person and person, as well as the placement of acrylics between cashiers and customers to avoid risks of contagion.
Similar measures were taken by its main competitors such as Carrefour and Coto, where queues during the weekend were also endless and even tense moments were experienced due to the dispute over certain essential products.
Also, in smaller stores, such as a branch of the famous pasta house La Juvenil located in the Bancalari corridor of the Buenos Aires town of Pacheco, there was a good influx. There, over the weekend, its owners sold half of what they usually sell during the 29 days of February. “Crazy everything we sold, to the point that we had to close before because we ran out of stock“, assured their owners to iProfessional.
In addition, they clarified that they ask their clients to wait at the door of the premises so that they enter three at a time. “We disinfect the premises every 15 minutes with a chlorinated alkaline solution and lisoform, and we offered gel alcohol to both our clients and the employees who received and cared for them,” they assured.
In the case of the production companies, they also admit a strong increase in demand but they clarified that for now there is no risk of shortages. “There was a lot of increase in food sales that for now is impacting the decline in stocks of supermarkets and wholesalers, but that is not felt so much among producers,” explains Ignacio Noel, president and CEO of Morixe Hnos, one of the main food providers in Argentina.
Even so, the local economy will not be able to detach itself from the global debacle that the coronavirus is expected to cause in the short term, as highlighted in a report prepared by Abeceb.
The consultancy anticipates a 5% drop in exports, for a total of $ 3.4 billion, a slowdown in GDP of 0.5% and a drop in activity of up to 1.5%.
Agro-industry, oil, cars, tourism, electronics and the domestic market will be the most affected by the disastrous effects that this virus will also have on the economic life of Argentina and the rest of the world.
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