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Retailers caught off guard by Duterte’s lockdown directive

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REUTERS

FOOD STOCKS in supermarkets are expected to decline in the coming days due to increased demand after Metro Manila was placed again under a strict lockdown.

Retailers have been cutting inventory because sales have slowed since June, Steven T. Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association, said by telephone on Monday.

Retailers were caught off guard by the palace lockdown announcement and suppliers were unprepared to deal with the expected spike in demand, he added.

“Prepare to see empty shelves in some supermarkets in the next few days,” Mr. Cua said.

Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan will revert to a modified enhanced community quarantine from Aug. 4 to 18, after a surge in coronavirus infections, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque said on Sunday night.

Under the stricter lockdown, only those with quarantine passes may leave their homes when needed.

Stores are scrambling to find more workers to serve a surge in customers as demand spikes and employees fail to report for work in the absence of public transportation.

“One-day announcements are disruptive to businesses that are dealing with a host of other problems,” Mr. Cua said.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez warned the public against panic buying.

“We have been through this modified enhanced community quarantine, even enhanced community quarantine before, and the supply of food and essential products have never been short,” he said in a mobile phone message.

The country had more than two months of inventory for almost all basic goods and more than three months of supply for raw materials “so there is no need for the public to worry.”

Essential retail, which includes groceries, markets, convenience stores and drug stores, may continue to operate at 100% capacity during the stricter lockdown, according to the Trade department. — Jenina P. Ibañez





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