Tuesday, March 1, 2022

"Panic Buying Bursts In China: Millions Rush To Hoard As Shortages Hit Food And Medicine Supplies"

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"Panic Buying Bursts In China: Millions Rush 
To Hoard As Shortages Hit Food And Medicine Supplies"
by Epic Economist

"A new wave of panic buying is fast spreading around the world as shortages become more extensive amid the worsening global tensions. In China, the threat of another lockdown in the city of Hong Kong is leaving supermarket shelves empty, as residents rush to stock up on food and medicine before they are required to stay confined at home.

In several countries of Europe, including France and the U.K., people have been panic buying gas in anticipation of fuel shortages and rising prices. Meanwhile, in the United States, the supply chain is at risk of further disruptions. Experts say that companies should brace for cyberattacks and a breakdown of domestic supply chains as Eastern nations retaliate against Western sanctions. Already, local reports have revealed that Americans are stocking up daily necessities to prepare for soaring inflation amid a potential escalation of the conflict. This week, consumers from all around the globe started panic buying and hoarding supplies in preparation for challenging days and weeks.

In Hong Kong, residents have wiped out supermarket shelves amid fears of compulsory mass testing and a city-wide lockdown. One resident told the paper that he had spent the last four days trying to get groceries through a popular supermarket’s online delivery service without success. A fresh SCMP report exposed that a wide range of goods, including eggs, pork, vegetables, bread, and shelf-stable items were sold out at most of the city’s stores. SCMP also highlighted that meat was in especially short supply after two local processing plants were forced to shut down for disinfection when workers tested positive at one of them. One local butcher surnamed Lai told SCMP that he has not received any fresh meat for weeks, and consumers are getting increasingly frustrated with the situation. "It's the worst I've ever seen in 20 years of business," the 42-year-old said.

On Monday, the government released a statement saying that food deliveries would not be interrupted and urged people not to start panic buying. But analysts argued that uncertainty and distrust were fuelling consumer habits."We have so many questions but all answers are 'to be confirmed'," Chan Ka-lok, an international politics scholar at Baptist University, wrote on social media. "Rush to buy and stock up, let the people decide how to live their life,” he added.

Tom Grundy, the editor of the Hong Kong Free Press news website, described the latest panic buying as "a massive failure of government communications". "Rules are changing every few days, u-turns, botched stats, poor data disclosure," he wrote on Twitter. Users revealed that exceedingly long lines are being formed at supermarkets all across the city, while others said that there was nothing left in their local stores, so they were resorting to online purchases to stock up on essential items.

Meanwhile, in France and the U.K., drivers are afraid that the worsening global conflict is about to trigger a major jump in gas prices and started panic buying fuel and lining up their cars outside gas stations. In both countries, gasoline prices have recently hit a record high, and regulatory agencies are alerting about yet another spike in the coming days as global oil prices soar to extraordinary levels. One driver wrote on Twitter: “Supply and demand! Please don’t go panic buying fuel because I really can’t afford it as it is.”Several European stations started to impose limits on the amount of fuel each driver could buy. In many countries, there were also reports of people panic-buying for food supplies and cash machines running out of money.

In America, local news is also reporting long lines at gas stations, with many locations completely running out of fuel as panic buying sets in. The most recent memory of a panic buying frenzy for gas in the U.S. amounts to just four weeks ago, when Texans faced snowstorms and freezing temperatures, in an event they called “Icemageddon”. Last year, arctic temperatures led to broken pipelines and interrupted the distribution of water and the supplies of energy all across the state. Both at the pump and stores all across the country, people are stocking up necessities while they still can. On the other hand, supply chain experts are cautioning that Western sanctions are likely to spark Russian retaliation and consequently led to further supply chain bottlenecks, shortages, and higher inflation. Things are getting increasingly turbulent all over the globe, and people are just realizing that things are never going to come back to where they used to be. The worst is yet to come, and we all should prepare accordingly."

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