This was what Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) spokesperson Robert Go said as consumers in other countries and some areas in Metro Manila showed panic buying behaviors.
“Panic buying is not good for the market. It will disrupt the inventory of our stocks, and consumers who need the items the most will not be able to buy them anymore,” Go said.
He said consumers should buy only what they need. He discouraged panic buying since it would result in hoarding and even ballooning of prices as consumers may opt to resell what they hoarded.
He said some would even sell the items in the black market at much higher prices.
Go said hoarding of items is unfair to those whose budgets are limited.
In Cebu, Go said masks and sanitizers remain bestsellers among their shelves. He said there is no panic buying happening yet in Cebu.
He observed that foot traffic in shopping malls is noticeably low except for the grocery section.
“The grocery is okay because people buy food. They need to eat. What is badly affected are the clothes, beauty items and other non-consumable items,” he said.
In other countries, toilet paper rolls from supermarket shelves are being hoarded by consumers stricken by the virus scare.
Mask supplies in other pharmacies in Cebu have not been replenished yet as the demand rises because of the reported local Covid-19 cases in the country.
Meanwhile, Go said there is a two-to three-month delay in the delivery of new orders, particularly of China-made products due to the Covid-19 global outbreak.
“The new orders have not yet arrived. It’s about two to three months delay already which will have an impact by next month. If there is no replenishment, we’ll have fewer products available from China,” he said.
Go noted less spending activity of consumers nowadays causing a decline in sales from January to February.
Cebu Familia House, a store located on P. Lopez Street, Cebu City that sells fabric, laces and other sewing materials, said he has less supply of goods to sell due to supply disruption from China.
Alvin Tan, manager at Cebu Familia House, said they are severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak since most of their products come from China.
Tan said they have run out of stocks for some products such as ribbons, satin fabric and graduation medals.
“We just ask the customers to look for an alternative or substitute for the item or color they were supposed to buy,” he said.
Despite the situation, Cebu Familia House has not thought of increasing their prices since their suppliers have not hiked prices.
As for logistics, newly minted Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Felix Taguiam said it is still too early to tell whether the Covid-19 outbreak will disrupt the trade flow in Cebu.
“So far logistics still plays a vital role in delivering vital goods to and from Cebu. We will have to see in the next few days since it was issued just days ago. For me, any disruption in the logistic side should be given utmost priority,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the country under a State of Public Health Emergency following the confirmation of local Covid-19 transmission on Saturday, March 7, 2020.
The declaration is a signal to all concerned agencies, local government units and health care providers to be ready to implement planned response measures.
As of Tuesday, March 10, 2020, there were already a total of 33 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines.
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said fear of the virus is palpable especially in the business sector.
“The virus scare, as expected, has created fear and anxiety among the consumers, and traffic to malls has significantly lessened and continues to dwindle. Tourism businesses continue to experience a downward spiral in business revenues and will be the biggest hit,” he said.
Yu said they hoped the virus would slow down now that summer is fast approaching.
“Let us hope that the change in weather and temperatures will have some impact on the virus although scientists said that the virus continues to spread in tropical countries. Let us hope too that a cure and a vaccine is coming soon,” he said.
Yu said the Covid-19 outbreak is probably the worst thing that has happened in the last 20 years, and government support will be needed to sustain the economy until such time that the recovery sets in.
“Cebuano businesses are absorbing the impact but if this situation prolongs for a few more months, I think that the National Government should step in and provide some relief and support,” he said.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier warned that output of firms that produce intermediate goods to overseas markets will also be affected as the impact of the Covid-19 lingers.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said there is also a need to map out entire value chains across primary, secondary and tertiary players in the economy, to understand where critical parts are sourced, to identify alternative market sources, and to beef up inventory capacity to insulate against vulnerabilities.
“The government needs to work closely with the industry in crafting and implementing strategies to effectively mitigate the possible impacts of Covid-19 on production,” Pernia said.
To help the manufacturing industry become more competitive and resilient, the Cabinet official noted that relevant government agencies need to swiftly implement measures that would streamline processes, facilitate trade and reduce transactions costs.
To reinforce business continuity plans, government support will be needed for facilitating partnerships between micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and large domestic and/or foreign enterprises and for leveraging advanced manufacturing technologies to enable greater resilience of firms and MSMEs amid the challenges posed by Covid-19. (with KOC)