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Only essential businesses will remain open

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country will enter lockdown at midnight on 26 March in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 has far reaching consequences for the public.

As part of the lockdown measures only retailers selling essentials like food, medication, toiletries and sanitary items will be allowed to remain open.

Whale Coast Mall announced in a press statement earlier this week that only the following stores in the mall will remain open: Checkers, Clicks, Dischem, Food Lovers Market, Woolworths, Capitec, Nedbank and Standard Bank.

Special measures

Whale Coast Mall management added that trading hours and protocol in terms of access will be communicated in due course.

A number of large retailers which will remain open have also changed the way they do business in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Pick n Pay announced that it has implemented a special shopping hour between 07:00 and 08:00 every Wednesday exclusively for persons aged 65 and older.

John Bradshaw, retail executive: marketing at Pick n Pay, says this measure was suggested by the store’s “online community”.

“We know the Coronavirus is more of a threat to older people, and it is thus especially important that our older customers limit the number of times they are in busy spaces as much as possible. This dedicated shopping hour for our elderly customers will give them exclusive use of the store,” he explained.

Customers should have a valid ID to enter the PnP store during this time. On this day, Smart Shoppers over the age of 60 will also earn double points in-store.

Bradshaw also reports that the retailer has seen a sharp increase in online orders. “We are working hard on finding ways to extend the benefits of our online service, including increasing our click-and-collect offer. However, we are very conscious that the vast majority of our customers will continue to rely on our physical stores, so are doing everything we can to keep an excellent service for them,” he stated. PnP also urged customers not to “panic buy”, saying: “We have an excellent relationship with our suppliers and we’re working closely with them to make sure we have enough products in our stores and online, so customers can get what they want and need.

“Where stocks are temporarily low due to heavy customer demand in the past few days, we have limited purchases per customer.”

Clicks

Clicks has confirmed that at this time all stores will remain open.

“We are doing everything we possibly can to service the needs of our staff, customers and communities,” says Rachel Wrigglesworth, Clicks Chief Commercial Officer.

“Clicks has a critical role to play during this time, and our focus is to ensure that pharmacy, healthcare and a wide range of the essential products that we sell are available to those who need them. Clicks Pharmacies will continue to dispense medication and Clicks Clinics will remain open and focus on flu vaccinations as their key priority.”

The company reports that “an unexpected increase in demand for essentials and hygiene products both in-store and online” has been recorded. In order to ensure that essential products are available for all customers, said Wrigglesworth, stores are restricting quantities to six products per customer in-store and three products per customer online on certain items. She added: “These really are extraordinary times and we ask that customers practise social distancing by maintaining a one metre distance between our store staff and other customers, as we try and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. And we reiterate our commitment to holding prices on hygiene products despite this sustained surge in customer demand.”

Shoprite Group

The Shoprite Group, which includes Checkers and USave stores, says given the increase in shoppers that want to prepare for the lockdown, there are some gaps on store shelves. “But new stock is arriving daily and the Group is working around the clock to keep shelves stocked. Order volumes have been increased and warehouses have sufficient stock to replenish store shelves, however, new and additional suppliers are also being sourced,” reads a statement by the group.

Shoprite Group appealed to customers not to stockpile and to buy only what they and their families need, so that others are not left without much-needed items.

“Stockpiling will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Some items are out of stock due to import restrictions or delays. Plans are being made to ensure that additional stock is secured as soon as possible.”

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