Despite NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reminding us all that shops would stay open during the two-week lockdown in the Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, and Wollongong areas, people panicked. Even when the Premier said in a conference that there was “no need to panic buy”, what did people do the second that the press conference was over? Panic buy!!!
Images of empty supermarket shelves and trolleys stuffed with rolls of toilet paper quickly began circulating all over Twitter. Looking at the carnage, all I could think of was: “Aww shit, here we go again.”
alex just sent this photo from coles [my suburb] and this is so FUCKED pic.twitter.com/G3WteRpBJ0
— nurie ???? sad hours (@nuriepop) June 26, 2021
(Not my photos) but this was at Coles The Entrance.
— ???????????????????????????? ????☠️ (@SJOBrien8906) June 26, 2021
But what exactly were people panic buying hours before we all became stuck inside for the next fortnight? Well, we reached out to a few of our mates in the field—AKA who work in retail and supermarkets—to hear the weirdest shit people panic bought this lockdown. Including, I’m sorry, DVDs???
Keep reading for the full 2 for $20 boxset story.
“People weren’t that bad and the store was relatively quiet during the lockdown until the official lockdown announcement at like 3PM on Saturday,” a casual who works at a Coles in Greater Sydney told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“The store got packed and queues for checkouts started going into the aisles and wrapping around. Customers started to get pushy and rude towards staff and other customers.”
Saturday arvo two hours before lockdown starts = a line in Coles for the self-serve checkouts AN ENTIRE AISLE LONG. pic.twitter.com/eXcnzLQZ6i
— Aeryn ???? ????️???? ???? (@jiangyin) June 26, 2021
So what the hell were people actually panic buying at Coles? Well, according to our source, unlike the first major lockdown early last year, people were buying literally fucking anything and everything. It was a capitalist blood bath. Oh, and “eggs.”
“The first lockdown we had, people mainly bought non-perishables like pasta, rice and flour, and all our frozen foods, which all had restrictions put in place,” they said. “This time around they’ve just started buying anything they could get their hands on.
“All our bread, milk, and common vegetables that people buy were all depleted. All the paper towels were gone, tissues barely made a dent and they left a lot of toilet paper behind. They seemed to only want the massive packs and left a lot of four, six, and nine packs.
“I guess a lot of eggs? A lot of eggs.”
A bottle shop on King St in Newtown
“Friday night was really the busiest night,” says the manager of a bottle shop near Newtown Station.
“People were swarming in and buying up big. Like, three one-litre bottles of vodka kinda stuff.
“We’re right next to the station so people don’t usually buy full cases of beer but they very much were. We have regular customers that come in and buy the same thing every day, and even those people were buying three times the usual.
“Yesterday didn’t feel as crazy. I think because Newtown already had the half lockdown vibe going and we were on the lockdown side, people were getting all their shopping in then.”
Distressingly, the bottle shop worker adds that a few customers and delivery drivers weren’t wearing masks.
“We use a delivery service called Tipple, and not a single one of the drivers were wearing masks the entire night which was super frustrating. But overall, people started to get the picture and really mask up.
“In the lead up to yesterday I’d had a few fights with customers about masks, but people finally understood.”
“Since the lockdown was announced in Sydney we had a weird influx of people, but because of EOFY we just thought it was that,” one employee from JB Hi-Fi told us on Saturday afternoon.
“But they weren’t really taking advantage of those sales, they were just buying mostly games, movies, and TV shows.
“Then today, about a half-hour after the lockdown announcement, we started to get bombarded by people also buying games, movies, and TV shows but in larger amounts.
A friend who works at JB HI-FI says people (boomers, ofc) are panic buying DVDs! DVDs!!! Dozens of them, too! Imagine risking it all for the fkn 2 for $20 deals.
— Julian Rizzo-Smith (@GayWeebDisaster) June 26, 2021
“We had a customer buying a dozen movies, another one was buying the latest seasons of Game of Thrones, Chicago Fire, and A LOT of Yellowstone with Kevin Costner. For the most part, it was older people buying those series and the younger ones buying games.”
“It was insane though,” they added, “we had backed up lines for a solid two hours after the announcement was made.”
Side note: do these people know that streaming services exist? The NSW government isn’t going to cut your internet connection if you get the Delta variant.
“In my store, we were really quiet for the entire day,” an employee at a Sephora store within the City of Sydney that shut down on Friday told us.
“I remember before we had direction from head office to shut down due to the lockdown, everyone was on edge, we weren’t sure what was going to happen. A lot of us staff spent the first half of the day talking about how we were going to make money if our store was to shut down. Customers were doing their own thing & buying things to prep for lockdown.
“Every customer who came in was wearing a mask, checking in, and using the sanitizer provided.
“However, customers didn’t want our help, they were happy browsing and mostly were going off lists they’d built online.”
The Sephora casual added that panic buying was a little different for them than at other places because their products are a bit more expensive. However, that didn’t stop people rushing in and grabbing what they could for the forthcoming two weeks.
“This was a bit different for Sephora seeing as we are a bit more expensive, but I did notice that the people who were buying things were buying multiples of one item,” they said.
“The people who were buying things from lists they’d made were frantically looking for things and hoping they were in stock.
“If I had to pinpoint the main thing people were panic buying from us, it would be makeup remover & skincare. Mostly skincare, like face masks, face wash, and things alike.”
One H&M staffer who works in a City of Sydney council store said that “it was definitely quieter than usual but we definitely had a lot of people come in, either casually shopping or buying things for the lockdown.
“The overall vibe was the same as usual. It definitely wasn’t like the supermarkets.”
Another H&M employee at Warringah Mall added that staff members “felt quite vulnerable, frustrated and stressed, whereas customers were antsy, angry, stressed and almost felt entitled.”
“It was a bit dreary and slow all day, with most panic buying sweat sets, undies, and socks.”
The City of Sydney H&M worker added: “I don’t think there was panic buying per se, but people were buying things I would assume were for home wear.”
All interviewees have been left anonymous to protect their identity and privacy.