Northern Ireland news

Not all business areas suffering from coronavirus pandemic

Empty shelves at supermarkets amid coronavirus panic-buying. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Brendan Hughes

WHILE coronavirus is causing havoc in many business sectors such as aviation and hospitality, there are some experiencing an uplift amid the pandemic.

Supermarkets and convenience stores have notably seen surges in demand which has left some shelves bare or empty as retailers struggle to replenish stocks.

Toilet roll, cleaning products, hand sanitiser and foodstuffs such as pasta and long-life milk are among the items which have been scooped up by panic-buying shoppers.

It has led to some chains such as Sainsbury's and Asda introducing strict sales limits per customer in a bid to curb stockpiling.

Some have also introduced special priority hours for older and more vulnerable customers.

Off-licences have also reported a boost in sales as the coronavirus outbreak has led to pub closures and reduced socialising.

Some operators in the south have reported a particular increase in purchases of fine wines.

As governments encourage people to work from home to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, there have been reports of increased sales in tech items such as laptops.

Computer services business Computacenter said there has been "a surge in demand" for laptops, while Edinburgh University has spent more than £300,000 on laptops as part of coronavirus planning to enable staff to work from home.

More makeshift home offices will likely benefit broadband companies, who have offered reassurances that they can cope with increased daytime demand.

Internet service providers say they have contingency plans in place, and services such as video calls should have little impact.

With various public leisure centres and council-owned gyms closing for the foreseeable future, it is expected that increased numbers of people may join private gyms which have stayed open during the pandemic.

PureGym, which has eight gyms in Northern Ireland, said it will remain open but attendances will be limited to 100 members per club at any one time as part of efforts to encourage 'social distancing'.

In the US, another business sector has also been experiencing a sales jump in response to the coronvirus health crisis – gun and ammunition retailers.

On the west coast, such as in Culver City, California, long lines of customers have been seen queueing up outside gun stores amid fears of civil unrest.

A major online dealer of ammunition said sales increased 68 per cent from February 23 to March 4 compared to the 11 days previous, with sales in North Carolina and Georgia up 179 per cent and 169 per cent respectively.

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