Nothing prepared grocery stores for this.
“This last week has been nothing like we’ve ever ever seen before,” said Craig Cavin, operations manager of South Island Country Grocers.
For Country Grocer, its been a week of record customer numbers and record sales.
“Anywhere between 60-90 per cent over normal [sales]. That’s huge, with not much extra staff to go around,” said Cavin.
They’ve even been forced to now ration what customers can buy. Friday afternoon, putting limits on items like bleach, toilet paper, eggs, milk, and canned goods.
At other grocery stores like Save-On-Foods, the buying frenzy is forcing them to cancel online orders for home delivery for some.
Just at a time when many customers desperately need it.
“I just got another grocery cancellation yesterday that my grocery order for next Thursday, will not be available,” said Louise Hartland, who is pregnant with her first child, and had not one, but two orders cancelled by Save-On-Foods this past week.
“To have them cancelled again, was kind of disappointing because I was kind of relying on that.”
But organizations all over the region, like Oaklands Chapel, are reaching out to help.
They’re checking in with their community, offering help to those who need it navigate things like online banking and food delivery.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, we’ll help if we can,” said Pastor Dan Anderson of Oaklands Chapel.
“We’re seeing a level of panic that we’ve never seen before. This whole idea that there’s a disease that’s just spreading everywhere, people are really afraid! It’s just an abundance of the unknown, and therefore an abundance of fear.”
But grocery stores say there’s enough to go around.
“As long as people ration, limit, save something for the next person, there’s going to be food there,” added Cavin.