Bulk buying takes hold
As new measures and restrictions are enforced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, members of the public have begun purchasing supplies in bulk to prepare for the worst.
Stores, supermarkets and wholesalers were crowded on Friday, from morning to nightfall.
People were rolling out trolleys full to overflowing with goods.
Even villagers out in the rural parts of Upolu made the unfamiliar trip to town to buy a month’s worth of supplies for their households.
Atoa Sevelu Felagai of Falelatai was one of the hundreds who decided to stock up on their supplies early,
“We never know what the Government will decide overnight so it’s always best to be prepared,” said the 43-year-old mother.
In a household of ten people Mrs. Felagai said she was concerned with the evolving situation of the COVID-19.
She said despite reports that the first suspected case in Samoa has not been confirmed there is always the possibility of another person walking through the airport without detection.
“I’m not going to risk it – we’ve already lost too many [lives] during the measles,” she said.
“I’ve decided to buy our supplies early so that we can avoid coming to town…the safest place is to stay home away from other people.”
Mrs. Felagai is unemployed and has depended on her children sending money from overseas to help their household finances.
But others who are not as fortunate as the mother from Falelatai.
A father-of-four from Vaitele fou, Tamalii Samasoni, has no option but to buy what he can with his minimum salary.
The father is a casual worker for a private lawn mowing company and gets paid $110 a week, depending on the availability of work.
He found himself counting his coins to purchase a box of chicken and a few tins of fish.
“The rich are [buying] in bulk forcing the prices of goods to go up,” said the father.
He pointed out that less fortunate families such as his have no option but to buy expensive produce.
“It’s the most unfortunate situation for us now because I can hardly afford the box of chicken which will probably only last us for two week or less,” he said.
“Mind you I have to think about our cash power, the daily expenses for my children’s breakfast and bus fare to work. It's not easy for us struggling families.”
The father urged businesses to have consideration for reasonable prices for consumers in situations such as his own.
Chan Mow Wholesale Manager, Siveni Chan Mow, said he had observed an unusually large amount of people opting to go straight to wholesale instead of supermarkets.
Some of the goods on the top of shoppers’ lists include: tin fish boxes, chicken boxes, sacks of rice, sugar and milk.
“We had seen today that instead of businesses but individuals were coming in purchasing those goods in bulk,” he said.
“The purchases in bulk increased meaning that our reserve stock will likely be finish in a month's time. But that will be a problem with possible restrictions on our borders and can cause further shortage of all goods.”
The Manager said the company managed to recover its stock from last week’s shortage after a vessel was allowed to dock and bring in their supplies.
Two of the products the wholesaler has run out of are face masks and hand sanitisers.
He added efforts are being made to seek supplies from Australia and New Zealand but he does not expect them to be successful.