The rush to buy facemasks and hand sanitizers started early in Hermanus. According to one of the sales assistants at Clicks, peopled started buying facemasks “the day after the news of the outbreak was announced.”
By the end of last week it was impossible to get hold of a facemask at Clicks. The retailer was trying to get hold of stock, but the assistant to whom The Grotto spoke did not sound hopeful. She said that hand sanitizers were still available, and selling briskly. Clicks had no intention to put a limit on the number of hand sanitizers a customer could buy, at that time.
Mediclinic Hermanus has facemasks in stock, but these are for the staff, and not for sale to the public.
Dischem in Hermanus ran out of facemasks at the beginning of last week. A sales assistant told The Grotto that individuals were not limiting themselves to buying one mask. Instead, they were buying “a box full at a time.” The pharmacy’s hand sanitizers were also flying off the shelves. One man is said to have bought 137 hand sanitizers for himself.
By the end of last week Hermanus Pharmacy still had facemasks and hand sanitizers in stock. The pharmacy had decided to limit the number of masks customers can buy “in order to help as many people as possible.” The limit was five masks per person.
The price of masks on Takealot doubled in the space of a week. The N95 respirator (also called the FFP2) used to cost R499 for a pack of 12. The price increased within the space of a week to R1200!
One product that has not seen a spike in sales because of the Coronavirus, is Corona beer. It has been widely reported that the sales of Corona beer have taken a knock due to the Coronavirus. An employee at a liquor store in Hermanus confirmed that this was true to a co-worker of The Grotto. The employee added that the sales picked up on Saturday. Perhaps it was the effect of the first Hemel-en-Aarde marathon that made people forget for a moment about the name’s unfortunate connection.
The Grotto reached out to Takealot about their price increases. They have not yet responded.