As the Covid-19 coronavirus continues to spread, its impact is increasingly being felt by local retailers as they get to grips with a number of supply and logistics issues.
The panic caused by the coronavirus has also led to stock shortages in items such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser as consumers prepare for the possible impact of Covid-19 in their local communities.
With South Africa now reporting 17 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, stores have begun taking proactive steps to deal with supply issues as well as protect staff and customers.
Below some of the country’s retailers biggest outlined how they have been impacted by the coronavirus and the plans that they have put in place.
Massmart (Makro, Game, Dion Wired etc.)
“We are liaising proactively with our suppliers to understand the potential impact of coronavirus, some of whom have anticipated shipping delays on certain imported products,” a Massmart spokesperson told BusinessTech.
“As an added measure, we have where appropriate, been liaising with Walmart to secure alternative sources of supply.”
The Shoprite Group said it is tracking the guidelines and advisory updates of the World Health Organisation, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and any directives announced by the Department of Health to stay abreast of information and required actions to be taken in relation to the effect of Covid-19 on its customers, employees and operations.
It is also participating in discussions with the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, which facilitates guidance to the retail and wholesale industry on shared challenges, to navigate and mitigate any issues that may arise.
“We consider planning as part of our core business and we are working with our suppliers across the business to manage our response to supply chain challenges. Our focus is to ensure that there is no long-term disruption of product availability for our customers, hygiene protocols and the well-being of our employees,” said Pieter Engelbrecht chief executive of the Group.
Engelbrecht said that on an operational level, the group’s buying offices remain in daily contact with suppliers and factories locally and across the globe.
Orders and shipments are visibly tracked and monitored to react to sudden changes in supply where necessary such as provision for the current increase in consumer demand for sanitisers, hygiene products and disinfectants.
Where needed, contingency plans have been put in place to mitigate stock order delays and cancellations out of China for certain winter products such as heaters and electrical blankets, including switching the source of supply to other countries like Bangladesh, Ukraine, India, Turkey and Poland, he said.
“Hygiene and cleanliness is always at the top of the Group’s business agenda and we are currently refocusing attention on health and safety policies and procedures in stores and offices,” Engelbrecht said.
Store employees are continuously educated and informed about the importance of strict hygiene and hand-washing procedures, as well as the clean-as-you-go principle (where surfaces are cleaned and disinfected whilst working), he said.
“All staff are being called on to be extra vigilant to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria and they are provided with practical information on ways of prevention.
“All group personnel also have access to a 24 hour Helpline, named Health24/7, which is a benefit offered to employees and their immediate families offering guidance and information on health and well-being matters, including trauma.”
Pick n Pay
“We have a good business continuity plan which focuses on maintaining our supply chain and retail operations so that our customers can continue to get the products they want and expect from our stores,” Pick n Pay said.
“We have effective hygiene measures in our stores and offices, and we are also communicating to customers the simple and important steps we can all take to minimise the risk of getting and spreading illness.”
“We are deeply saddened by the lives lost to the coronavirus,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.
“We have seen an increase in sales of certain products. We are working to meet the increase in demand and are putting in place additional measures to ensure that shelves are restocked as quickly as possible.
“We are closely monitoring this issue to ensure we have the best possible measures in place to safeguard our employees’ and customers’ health. The health and safety of our team members and customers is our main priority. Our staff are consistently updated on developments on the outbreak and we have provided guidance and training on personal hygiene and prevention measures.”
Woolworths said that it has also increased the amount of hand sanitisers in store for both our customers and our employees.
“Hand sanitisers will be present at the entrance to each store, at the entrance to the checkout queues and at each till point. Extra trolley wipes are being provided as well as additional hygiene interventions for the store environment.
“Our stores are cleaned thoroughly every day with a further deep clean once a week.”