Millicent supermarket trade ‘returns to normal’

Bell Chilton And Armfield   TBW Newsgroup
BUYING TRIP: Foster's Foodland employee Alisha Bell welcomed shoppers Abby Chilton and Eilis Armfield to the store. Picture: J.L. "FRED" SMITH

Bell Chilton And Armfield TBW Newsgroup
BUYING TRIP: Foster’s Foodland employee Alisha Bell welcomed shoppers Abby Chilton and Eilis Armfield to the store. Picture: J.L. “FRED” SMITH

A MILLICENT supermarket is back to normal following a dramatic surge of customers panic buying in March.

Foster’s Foodland manager Dave Foster said shoppers had returned to their regular buying habits after concerns relating to COVID-19 prompted consumers to stockpile food.

Mr Foster said this was particularly evident during a two-week period in March.

“We saw a lot of out-of-towners in the shop,” Mr Foster said.

“The prices for fresh produce jumped during this time as it was case of supply and demand.

“Some people could see the shelves were being emptied and so they bought more of those lines.

“For some foods like tinned tuna, there were still cans to buy but perhaps not in the size you wanted.”

Mr Foster said the store was affected by a nationwide demand for hand sanitiser, as well as shortages of other items.

“We ran out of hand sanitiser to sell,” he said.

“We had it for our staff for the sake of their safety.

“We were covered for fresh meat as local farmers supply us with beef and pork.

“As there was a great demand for mince, my father Brian Foster came out of retirement to work the mincer.

“He did a three-year trade in his youth to become a butcher.

“As we ran out of bagged rice and flour, we bought it in bulk and bagged it ourselves.”

Mr Foster said the store encouraged its order and collect service as well as home delivery, which peaked at 68 customers on one day.

“Contractors took the goods out to places like Beachport and Furner while our own staff did the deliveries in the Millicent township,” he said.

“A home delivery service is something we have always done and we are now back to our average daily number of 10 home deliveries.

“We also had people who would phone in orders and they would pick them up from the shop.

“The highest number in a single day was 28.”

An ongoing legacy of the COVID-19 protocols at Foster’s Foodland are the Perspex screens around the check-outs and floor markings reminding people of the 1.5 metre social-distancing rule.

Mr Foster has noticed a change in the mood of customers in recent weeks and it was for the better.

“People have calmed down,” he said.

“They had been anxious and edgy about COVID-19.”

He said there were no buying limits in place at the Kentish Place store.

Meanwhile, the State Government has eased some COVID-19 restrictions and this has impacted on other Millicent businesses.

After 10 weeks of only being allowed to serve takeaway meals, the New Heaven Indian Restaurant in Millicent was able to welcome back dine-in patrons from May 15.

The George Street eatery is usually licensed to have 35 seated patrons but the current COVID-19 restrictions cap the number at 20.

“Our bookings are increasing,” proprietor Sukhchain Dhaliwal said.

Elsewhere on George Street, the easing of restrictions means up to 50 diners can again be seated inside and outside Acky’s Deli.

Each interior room can have 20 patrons while a further 10 can be outside.