Panic buying triggers price rise

Finance | Sophie Hui 13 Oct 2021

Sophie Hui

After Lionrock everybody off guard, people rushed to supermarkets and wet markets to stock up food before Kompasu hit, with pictures of empty shelves for vegetables, meat and dry goods going viral and triggering more panic buying.

Many also appeared to make "panic calls" as the Office of the Communications Authority said people who eagerly contacted relatives and friends because of the inclement weather by phone or on social media and instant messaging through broadband services might have caused serious congestion in telecom networks.

"If your phone calls cannot get through instantly, or if you experience very slow broadband services, please try again later to avoid placing a further burden on the networks," the office said.

Housewives said fresh vegetables and meat were sold out much faster than usual and prices of those still available were up by as much as 50 percent.

"I saw many people in the market this morning so I bought food before I had breakfast as I'm worried that there will not be much left later," a housewife said.

"I bought [extra] vegetables, fish and meat as I'm afraid that ingredients will be more expensive the day after the typhoon." Another woman said she usually spends over HK$10 on vegetables, but saw prices had gone up to HK$20 to HK$30.

"The prices of fish are fine, but prices for vegetables are ridiculous, as well as chicken, but I still have to shop as my family needs food," another housewife said.

"It's very busy today as many people shopped because of the typhoon. I had prepared more stocks but still could not accommodate all customers as many bought more suddenly," a vegetable stall owner said.

"People are more nervous because of the typhoon. I saw more people in the market today, 20 percent more than usual," another vegetable stall owner said.

Some people proudly shared photos of their stocks of food online - such as spaghetti, canned food and snacks piled up in cabinets - attracting criticisms that they were selfish.

"Is this a typhoon or the start of a war?" a web user said. Another said: "No need to worry about food in Hong Kong."

But some said they bought more food because prices would go up the day after the typhoon.

Many also argued on whether they should order takeaway on stormy days as some thought it was too dangerous for delivery people to go out and about.

"I believe the delivery men would still want you to order food, but with more service charge," a commenter said. Another added: "Be considerate and just cook instant noodles at home."

Meanwhile, some people made plans for hotpot, dim sum, karaoke, mahjong and movies with friends and families in the hope of a longer-lasting No 8 signal to enjoy two days off, counting tomorrow's Chung Yeung Festival.

Some, however, believed the typhoon will move away fast, while others said they still need to work from home - no matter the weather.

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