Consumers buy in bulk, depleting supermarket supplies

Metro Manila residents are buying goods in bulk, depleting inventories of supermarkets, hours before a typhoon is expected to make landfall.

Consumers have made a mad scramble for items such as sardines, biscuits, instant noodles, candles, batteries, and flashlights, the president of a Philippine supermarket association told GMANews.TV.

“People are alarmed and they are buying more than what they need,” Steven T. Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association Inc., (Pagasa), said. The industry group is composed of supermarkets that serve the low to upper-middle market.

“Selling areas are crowded and queues are very long,” he said on Friday evening as television news programs aired reports of empty grocery shelves.

Demand for instant food items have surged since these can be prepared and consumed easily, Cua said.

These food items can also be transported with minimal difficulty should consumers be forced to relocate and/or leave their homes in case of floods, he added.

For the past few days, appetite for instant food items was driven by bulk-buying for relief operations for victims of the storm Ondoy.

But on Friday night, consumers stocked up on their supplies, alarmed that a new storm may unleash effects similar to those wrought by ‘Ondoy’ just a week earlier.

In the meantime, demand for candles, batteries, and flashlights was spurred by rumors that the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will be cutting off power in its areas upon the arrival of typhoon “Pepeng.”

Meralco, Metro Manila’s lone electricity distributor, has denied the report.

To ensure that inventories are well-stocked, supermarkets have switched brands, especially if quality, price, and sometimes even the manufacturer are the same, Cua said.

He also acknowledged that inventories have been reduced as some deliveries were delayed by floods that were caused by record amounts of rainfall a week ago.

But buffer stocks of basic goods remain stable, Cua said.

This view is shared by Corazon C. Curay, logistics director at the Makati-based XVC Logistics Inc. Curay is also the president of the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines (SCMAP), an industry group that represents firms that store and deliver goods made by manufacturing giants such as San Miguel, Nestle, and Johnson & Johnson.

Damage to inventories has been minimal, Curay told GMANews.TV in an earlier phone interview held four days after Ondoy submerged the Philippine capital.

“Manufacturers just have to catch up on production,” she said, adding that some companies may be forced to sell their products in larger or smaller sizes, depending on their stocks.

Although Curay expects an increase in bulk prices of raw materials, companies will refrain from passing on the hike to its customers since it may translate to lower market share.

She also downplayed apprehensions that delayed deliveries and increased demand will boost basic goods’ prices.

Cua agreed.

Despite reports of increased bulk-buying – which raises the possibility of higher goods prices – neighborhood groceries have yet to buy double of what they usually purchase, Cua said. This indicates that they do not expect higher prices in the short term, Cua explained.

“If they wanted to take advantage of higher prices in the future, smaller stores would have bought more,” Cua said.

“People are just reacting too quickly to news of the storm,” he said. “Consumers should just buy supplies good enough for one and a half days, instead of three.”


Treo 650

SMARTPHONES can be useful.
Especially if a summer downpour catches you unawares, leaving your underpants wet and forcing you to seek refuge in a fastfood outlet whose airconditioning is slightly above the temperature needed to produce ice.
Which is exactly what happened to me Tuesday night in Quezon City on the way home.
Immediately after getting off a jeep at Philcoa, I had nowhere to go. A small body of dirty water had formed right in the middle of a tricycle terminal where the last leg of my journey home usually begins. In the meantime, the rain gave no indication that it was letting up anytime soon: it poured continuously from the moment the train I was on pulled into the Quezon Avenue station until my untimely arrival via jeep at Philcoa.
Although I could take an alternative route to the apartment from Philcoa, it involved a far too complex process to be appreciated by greedy, predatory cabdrivers intent on making a quick buck or two from desperate commuters such as myself.
Besides convincing a cabdriver that the road home was free from flood, traffic, zealous policemen, and criminals, I was expected to fork out extra for his kindness, that is, if he actually decided to take me.
Unfortunately, since I was already drenched and stranded, my extra reserve of goodwill was in dire need of replenishment. It absolutely dried up when another driver told me that the leg room of his cab’s front passenger area was inundated with rainwater. It was drier than the humor of columnist Conrado de Quiros.
Incensed, I ran for cover, which was an exercise in futility—if there was one—since I was already gearing up to become a finalist for a wet t-shirt contest: the fat Filipino male version. I then whipped out my smartphone, and continuously pressed just one single button to dial a pre-programmed number: my wife’s. Upon being connected, I told her that I would be unable to pick her up immediately because I couldn’t get to Charing—a 1994 midnight blue Toyota sedan we inherited from her parents—who was parked at home. (As it turned out, my wife was given a lift by a very close friend who had an errand to run. Thanks, Barry. And Maya too for her thoughtfulness.)
In the meantime, since I was already stranded in the area, I told my wife that I might as well have dinner at a nearby fastfood outlet where I proceeded to freeze my balls off, as earlier mentioned.
After I ate a hasty supper of chicken and spaghetti, I once more unsheated my underutilized smartphone—a Treo 650. With two hands, I began to do the finger mambo on the unit’s qwerty keyboard using the Documents to Go application.
As I whiled the storm away, I eventually produced a short but nevertheless workable draft of a piece whose parts were enhanced to produce the blog entry which you are reading now.
Moral of the story: it pays to have a smartphone handy especially if you’re going to be stranded in a cold fastfood restaurant—it keeps your mind off from your freezing balls.
FROM THE ENGLISH USAGE DEPT. Re: phrase “catches you unawares.” Is it catches you unawares or unaware?