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Shoppers strip shelves bare despite assurances of steady supplies of goods for Dublin

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Shoppers queue up to pay for items at the Tesco store in Airside. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shoppers queue up to pay for items at the Tesco store in Airside. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shoppers queue up to pay for items at the Tesco store in Airside. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Many supermarkets across Dublin saw shelves empty yesterday as shoppers stockpiled amid the coronavirus crisis.

Retailers cautioned that, while they had sufficient supplies of even high- demand goods, panic buy- ing could make keeping shelves full an unnecessary struggle.

"Ireland is prepared to continue to supply all groc-ery outlets for the coming months. There is no reason for Irish citizens to have any concern," said David Fitzsimons, chief executive of lobbying group Retail Excellence.

Brexit

"The industry has never been more prepared, having planned for a hard Brexit.

"Social media images of empty shelves sensationalise the matter. These shelves are restocked every evening."

Such messages failed to deter the hoarders, who snapped into action after the Government announced nationwide shutdowns of schools and events attracting large gatherings. Shops will remain open.

By the afternoon, most fresh produce, bread, eggs, milk and pasta were gone, along with hoarders' most prized goods - antibacterial washes and wipes, bleaches and toilet roll.

At Tesco in Cabra, shelves were bare.

Lidl in Glasnevin offered any fruit you wanted - as long as it was pear. The veg section tempted with vacuum-packed beets. All bottled water had gone.

"We bought into the panic when we saw everything go wild on social media. The pictures got us racing here," said electrician Dan Coleman beside his wife, Tina.

They were too late. In lieu of toilet rolls, they put kitchen towels in their basket.

"We'll make it work!" Mr Coleman said.

Customers arriving for their usual weekly shop looked aghast at the retail ruins.

"This is ridiculous," said Paula Mulvey, searching for anything tasty alongside her husband, Chris.

"Don't these fools who picked the place clean understand that the shops are still open in Italy? What do they think is about to happen here?" she asked.

Her husband, a truck driver for another supermarket chain, said his own deliveries had increased in size and scale in the past week - a sign that the Covid-19 crisis has been driving strong grocery sales to supply Dublin's sudden bunker mentality.

Punches

"There's no chance we'll run out of stock. We have four months' worth of ambient goods," Mr Mulvey said.

"People who bought all the fresh produce today will be hard-pressed to eat it all before it goes bad."

At that moment, his wife got a friendly tap on the shoulder from a friend - who had just arrived from the relative war zone of Tesco Cabra.

"There's nothing left there!" Claire Hickey said.

"I heard there was murder down there," Mr Mulvey said.

"It wasn't so bad. No punches were thrown," Ms Hickey replied.

"We were really just laughing at each other as we couldn't find anything worth buying and saying how crazy it all was."