Thanks for this thread, its nice to get a small feel for how life goes on other places in the world. Watching the news for me lately leads to information overload at the moment.
I work at a popular retailer in DK and so far it has been very interesting seeing how people cope. I’ve both been heartened by how people have taken to our governments recommendations and disheartened by how some people just don’t care.
On the 11 of march, 20:00 pm our government came out with an announcement that they intended to close all non-essential public workplaces, schools and such. The government stressed, most emphatically, that to "hamstrer(/taking much more than you need) was unnecessary, that the shops would have food for all if everyone would shop like they normally do. This was done just about an hour before most shops close; I think our prime minister chose the time for people to digest and calm down before going out panic buying. It didn’t work, at least not in the big cities. People still crowded and “hamstrerede” like mad (toilet paper, bread, pasta and a lot of yeast for baking), forcing stores to keep open well after they should have closed.
Now the interesting part. My brother and I have always debated the difference between owning a store in a small town and a city store. We’ve worked in both and in small towns, where everyone knows everyone, people are more friendly, respectful even. People are less prone to blowing up or throwing tantrums (to everyone whos worked retail, they still happen, just not as frequently). There is a bigger sense of community; Joe down there by the register isn’t just an anonymous face, he played soccer with my own Peter! Why’d I need to shout at him that there isn’t any more toilet paper? Not his fault, I don’t need to vent at him for something he can’t control.
In big cities however, people can hide in the crowd. There isn’t a need to be polite. In big cities you don’t have to care about how people view you, because you’ll likely never see them again. So people tended to be much more rude, disrespectful, abusive even in a city store. At least in our experience.
Sticking with this theory, I wonder if that explains why people stopped hamstering after just one day at our store? And why people are still hamstering in the bigger cities here in DK. Perhaps there’s an element of group pressure at work as well. You see a lot of people hamstering in the big cities, you start thinking yourself perhaps you should as well?
While in my small store, people quickly calmed down and adjusted their habits to the crisis, it seemed at least. Why? Was it that sense of community perhaps? Did people talk and realize how silly it was to buy 6 packs of toilet paper? I like to think so, but that is just guessing from my side.
Now with most places shutting down, except the most essential, a lot of people come up to me at work and say we must be minting it. Its definitely true if I look at our numbers that the day after our governments restrictions started, we had a sales day comparable to the days before Christmas. A conservative estimate is we went on to an index number of almost 200. What people have to understand though is that this came at us without ANY warning. At 20:00 pm all of our orders for the next day have been done and sent at least 7 hours before. I was impressed we even had the goods on-hand to even cope with one day of mad hamstring.
But now we have a new problem. Our warehouses are caught on the wrong foot, with the orders we pull for the next delivery, we practically empty them. Our suppliers can’t keep up with the demand, because people are panicbuying. If people had shown some restraint, I wouldn’t have had to put sales restrictions on certain items (seriously, who NEEDS 40 packets of yeast? Why does everyone suddenly think we suddenly can’t supply bread? We sold 3 days worth of sales of yeast within half an hour, madness). Almost 2 weeks on and we are just now starting to get our full stock back. Meat, dairy, bread, fruit and veggies have all been cut down or entirely removed from our orders because our warehouse simply can’t supply it fast enough.
So when people come up to me and say we must be minting it, I answer as honestly as I can and say yes, we did have one good salesday, but at what cost? 30 customers leave with all my diapers, so now I have 50 more who can’t put diapers on their children? Its so bloody frustrating knowing that as a store, I have enough for everyone, if everyone just keeps their purchase level at normal. Fair enough, I don’t know the reasons for why some really need 40 packets of yeast, perhaps there is a valid reason for it, i’m not judging - I only ask that you be honest with yourself about your actual needs before buying. And it really gladdens my heart seeing how people for the most part are doing just that right now. I have a lot of volunteers coming in buying for people who are either sick or in the risk group. College students come in and buy stuff for complete strangers, now that they can’t go to school. Simply amazing.
People are for the most part very good at sticking to the governments Corona guidelines. Though I can see some people still don’t take the crisis seriously. The government recommends a spacing of 2 meters between people, that if you have the symptoms you MUST stay at home and for stores to have sanitizer readily available for staff and customers. Yet families still come into my store, with children even and completely disregard spacing. Its hard to talk to people without offending them, that they really should only be one person shopping, both for their safety but also for everyone else - the more unnecessary people are in the store, the less space we have to keep our distance, the higher the risk of infection. I shudder to think how many of my old regulars I might not be seeing again if they get infected, just because the family were tired of being cooped up and needed to do something together. I really get that being locked inside for so many days is bloody hard, but is my store the time and the place? Please think about how you increase the risk for others and for your loved ones by bringing your family out.
I’ve also had to talk to one person who I know for a fact had 2 of the symptoms of Corona, he came in last saturday, hoarse voice from coughing, completely red and sweaty in his face due to a high temp. He didn’t care. He came in again wednesday and wouldn’t keep his distance to me. I had to ask him if he shouldn’t be at home, to which he just shrugged. I had to talk sense into a man twice my age, who should have known better.
Gods, thanks for letting me vent a bit, really needed that. I haven’t had anyone call in sick yet in my store, thank the maker, and I’m glad I have the means to send my most at-risk workers home. We do what we can and I hope that’s enough.
And finally, a small note about why people stockpile toilet paper here in DK. Apparently (I wasn’t aware of this until recently) a part of the toilet paper we get in our store is sourced from China. This got circulated around, people started worrying about the factories producing toilet paper would/have halted production and it would become a scarcity with time. A bit weird thinking when I’m sure there are other places our suppliers can source from, if necessary.