Panicked public hoards supplies
As Typhoon Bolaven churned toward the country yesterday, sales of major daily necessities including bottled water and candles surged at major discount chain stores and supermarkets, according to the retail industry.
In preparing for possible power outages or cuts in the water supply due to the typhoon, which sank Chinese fishing vessels off Jeju and lashed Seoul with blustery winds, sales of instant ramen, canned food, portable gas and batteries also soared.
According to industry sources yesterday, sales of flashlights surged 1,408 percent between Saturday and Monday, while packing tape used to protect windows soared 461 percent over the same three days compared to the year-earlier period.
At E-Mart, sales of ramen, bottled water and butane gas increased 20.5 percent on Monday compared to one week earlier. Sales of packaged noodles jumped 79 percent, cup noodles climbed 72.5 percent, bottled water rose 46.8 percent, butane gas was up 21.2 percent and milk powder moved up 11.3 percent compared to last week.
Meanwhile, sales of candles, flashlights, duct tape and batteries increased more than 100 percent during the three-day period.
Homeplus recorded similar jumps in demand as panic set in and the public hunkered down fearing the worst.
“Messages on Twitter and Facebook, as well as breaking news delivered via smartphones, created a greater sense of anxiety among the general public, which seems to have greatly bumped up sales of basic necessities and emergency supplies,” said an employee at Homeplus.
Lotte Mart sold 127.4 percent more cup noodles, 94.1 percent more canned food, 69.9 percent more bottled water and 575 percent more butane gas compared to the same period last year.
Flashlights, which stores usually sell two or three in a day, were selling at a rate of 30 to 40 on average, while stores reported sales of duct tape jumping around 14-fold.
“Coverage of the impending typhoon spurred preparations for potential water and power cuts, which led to sales of related products rising significantly,” said Nam Chang-hee, a marketing director at Lotte Mart.
At convenience stores, demand for meal replacement products also surged. Demand for newspapers exploded as they are known to be effective means of preventing windows from breaking when pummeled by powerful winds.
At GS25, sales of umbrellas, candles, flashlights and batteries also shot up.
At 7-Eleven, bread and instant rice rose by 32.3 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively, from Friday to Monday.
GS Supermarket reported that jittery consumers increased their purchases of candles and flashlights by around 1,000 percent.
By Kim Jung-yoon [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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