Wednesday 3 June, 2020

Massy begins rationing in St Lucia due to coronavirus panic buying

Managing Director of Massy Stores (SLU) Ltd, Martin Dorville

Managing Director of Massy Stores (SLU) Ltd, Martin Dorville

Massy has enacted a policy of rationing in all of its stores in St Lucia in an attempt to preserve the supply chain during the coronavirus pandemic.

Managing Director of Massy Stores (SLU) Ltd, Martin Dorville spoke with reporters today, Thursday, March 19, 2020, and explained why rationing is being done to avert a crisis, not create one.

"There is a false sense of security if you have everything and the person next you, your brother, your sister, has none. We want to put ourselves in a position where everybody can get food to eat, everybody can protect themselves with disinfectant and cleaning agents, this is basically what we’re trying to do."

"We have food supplies that we believe can provide everyone with a reasonable portion for themselves. What is happening, however, is that there is an exaggerated demand across a small cross-section of the population that are buying too much at once that is putting an incredible amount of strain on the supply chain. As a result of that Massy has decided that we will have to set those upper limits on those items, all in an effort to curb the behaviour to make sure that everybody gets some."

On how the rationing will work, Dorville stated: "I don’t know the exact products and the quantities associated with each but you will be able to buy an item where, because of the hoarding people were buying six and ten, you now will be limited to two. You may be limited to four you may be limited to one. Particularly, when we talk about Mega who sells large sizes, if you buy one bale of toilet paper at Mega you get 24 or 48, so you limit that so that the other person can get 24 or 48."

Dorville acknowledged that the rationing system can be cheated if people choose to simply buy items at multiple stores, to which he responded: “I have always had faith in humanity, in people, I think we all know what is happening… It is within us to do what is in our control to make sure we manage this. What Massy can do is set limits on those transactions, what the public can do is acknowledge what is happening, what their responsibility is to do and to take up that responsibility… We said it verbally before, nobody took heed, so we going to do it via the system now.

Maybe 10%, 20% even 30% will ignore it but the majority of our St Lucian people will do the right thing…”

Dorville responded to rumors that Massy will be closing for 2 weeks, which may have contributed to the exaggerated demand: “Massy is an essential service, just like the police, just like the nurses, just like the doctors, in fact I was heartened because a particular doctor called and said, ‘we know you are on the frontline so we are not going to close our service to Massy. If your team members have a problem, let us know, we will come to your attention because we are all in this together.' If we close our doors, how do we eat? You understand what is happening in France and those countries, they are closing non-essential services but they are keeping supermarkets and pharmacies open because it’s essential for life.

We know we are putting ourselves at risk but we have no choice, we have to take care of our country and the way that our public can help us is by managing the extent to which one person hoards so much product. It is putting an unnatural strain on the supply chain, it is putting a strain on the manufacturers, they cant keep up with the exaggerated demand, as a result, what you want to do is manage that demand downwards so that you can replenish sufficiently enough."

Dorville noted that with normal demand, the food supply would be sound: "We have food supplies available. We have our local manufacturer Tenderoni who has assured us that they have quite a substantial amount of inventory that can feed our country. We have suppliers who are bringing in containers of toilet paper that are going to be routed through Massy… we also have St Lucia Distillers who have produced something sort of like rubbing alcohol, which is a decent substitute as far as suppliers go.

What we have available we can stretch. The supply that we have available needs to last for a longer period of time beyond the exaggerated demand pressures that are being exerted on us."

Dorville dismissed a question asking about what would happen if the country shut down imports for a period of time and if Massy had sufficient stock in that instance. “If you notice, all of the countries, even during their biggest time of crisis, they have kept the supermarkets and pharmacies open, the truckers can even still cross the borders, the food supply chain is kept open so that you can get supplies, you create a bigger problem than the virus itself if you do that, so it’s a hypothetical question that I would say to you, it can scare our people and I don’t see that happening."

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