Life: To be a supermarket or not, that is the tricky question for some retailers.

Supermarket trolleys shown in a undercover trolley station

We are in a whole new world with COVID19, and it is testing people and businesses.

It also appears that some businesses are making poor decisions, potentially driven by money and the greed of money than anything else. Case in point is the decision by The Warehouse that it was an essential service, which has since been reversed. While the government has set the criteria for opening during New Zealand’s COVID19 lock down as “any entity involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the well being of people.” Businesses like The Warehouse are trying to push the situation further and be in a position of selling consumer goods which clearly are non-essential items. Non-essential items at The Warehouse account for 90% of their products. This situation that The Warehouse thought they were expected to trade is simply The Warehouse taking advantage. Senior management at The Warehouse now needs to make an intense hard look at themselves and appreciate the situation of what is happening in the world with COVID19.

Another store that needs to have a hard look at themselves is The Mad Butcher. Who appears to be blaming an MBIE call centre representative for the misunderstanding and decision as to whether they could open during the COVID19 lockdown period.

To be fair, The Warehouse and The Mad Butcher can feel aggrieved that supermarkets, like Countdown, are getting free rein in the sale of food during this lockdown period. But The Warehouse is a large format store, and The Mad Butcher is simply a large-scale meat retailer. Very few customers would think of them as being within the definition of entity involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people.

I did my supermarket shopping online last night, after being able to secure a delivery time for shopping. However, I was surprised at the prices of food, particularly vegetables and meat. Friends had previously mentioned to me that the cost of vegetables had gone up.  But I was staggered at the price of beef, pork and lamb. So, it was no surprise this morning that news media were reporting on price gouging.

There does appear to be panic buying. Online grocery shopping delivery and supermarket pick-up times are tough to obtain, in a non-COVID19 situation, it is the opposite. News media reporting long queues outside supermarkets, when the government’s message is, shop as normal, there is enough food and supplies to go around. On my supermarket shops, like last night online shop I have been able to obtain 98% of what I required, this being no different to normal non-COVID19 supermarket shopping. Consequently, I support the shop as normal message. Because when there are a run and panic on food and beverage, it is going to force prices up naturally as a mechanism to reduce panic buying. Price increases hurt the people who can least afford to buy food. So, let’s think of all people at this time and not purely on ourselves or making the almighty dollar that drives so many businesses.

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