Sanitiser demand ‘unprecedented’ amid coronavirus fears
BRISBANE chemists are running out of hand sanitiser at unprecedented rates as panicked residents rush to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus.
The Courier-Mail visited a half-dozen chemists in and around Brisbane on Monday, finding most with empty shelves and others expecting to sell out within a day of restocking.
One store in Fortitude Valley has even resorted to limiting the number of bottles per customer.
"Due to supply restraints and high demand, ALL HAND SANITIZER (sic) products are limited to 3 per customer per day," the sign at Chemist Warehouse Emporium said.
Chemist Warehouse Retail Group director Mario Tascone said stores were implementing rules to manage panic-buying on a case-by-case basis.
"That store is one of the smart ones," Mr Tascone said. "We'd rather satisfy 1000 people than satisfy one person who wants to buy 1000 bottles."
He described demand as unprecedented and said retailers like Chemist Warehouse could only stock what was being produced.
"Obviously manufacturers are producing as fast as they can," Mr Tascone said.
"When there's a run on a product like this, it takes a while for the supply chain to catch up."
Staff at one store visited today said they had received a shipment of hand sanitiser just this morning but expected to sell out again by the end of the day.
Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland branch vice-president Chris Owen said he had noticed demand surge at his own business in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, which had run out of hand sanitiser weeks ago due to the coronavirus scare.
"I know a lot of other pharmacies are in the same situation," he said. "We're trying to source stock. It comes in dribs and drabs.
"If you see some, take advantage of it and buy it. That's probably the best thing to do."
Mr Owen said the last time he saw such demand for hand sanitiser and face masks was during the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and before that, during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03.
Supermarkets were also seeing shelves emptied, with a Coles spokeswoman saying the shopping giant was seeing "extremely high customer demand" for hand sanitiser and antibacterial handwashes.
"While we are working closely with our suppliers to improve availability, some products may be temporarily out of stock," the spokeswoman said.