Retail groups: No need to panic buy as supplies will be restocked

Industry body says recent no-deal Brexit planning means ‘contingencies are in place’

Retail industry groups have urged the public not to panic buy food and other household items during the Covid-19 shutdown and suggested supplies will be maintained in the weeks and months ahead.

Retail Excellence, an sectoral lobby group, said it spoke on Thursday with "all of the major grocery multiples and forecourt operators in Ireland".

"We would like to reassure everyone that Ireland is prepared to continue to supply all grocery outlets for the coming months. There is no reason for Irish citizens to have any concern in that regard," said David Fitzsimons, its chief executive. "The industry has never been more prepared having planned for a hard Brexit over the past number of months."

He said the sector had co-operated closely with the Government in recent months in planning for shortages caused by Brexit: “Please be assured that we have more than adequate contingencies in place.”

Mr Fitzsimons said images on social media of empty supermarket shelves were misleading because “these shelves are restocked every evening and restocking will continue into the future”.

Non-perishable groceries

Retail Ireland, a division of employers group Ibec, said there had been significant demand for non-perishable groceries.

"Supply chains are functioning as normal and were well-placed to respond," said Arnold Dillon, director of the industry group.

“However, retail distribution networks are not designed to deal with bulk buying on a widespread basis. It is important that consumers behave responsibility and don’t buy more than they need.”

The largest indigenous grocery retailer in the State, Musgrave, which owns Super Valu and Centra, said it is “taking every step possible to ensure that the food supply chain continues to function as normal”. Chief executive Noel Keeley also said it is in direct talks with the Government.

“Panic buying is an inconvenience to other customers, so we would reiterate the call to remain calm. We continue to work to maximise availability and are working with suppliers to keep products flowing through the system,” he said.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column