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Coronavirus: Frenzy for freezers as store's sales hit 100 a day


Dalzell's of Markethill

Dalzell's of Markethill

Dalzell's of Markethill

A Co Armagh home goods retailer is selling 100 freezers a day as customers panic-buy to make extra space for storing food during the coronavirus emergency.

Dalzell's of Markethill, one of the largest independent electrical goods retailers in Northern Ireland, said the last container load of certain types of freezers will arrive today.

Following the arrival of this last consignment of chest, upright and table-top freezers, there will be no more available - at least in the near future, according to owner Trevor Dalzell.

"We just cannot get enough stock. We have never been busier," he said as he dealt with the large crowds flooding into his Main Street store.

"We have ordered all the extra stock but cannot keep up with the demand for freezers."

Customers want the extra freezer space in case it is needed in the event that shops run out of food, explained Mr Dalzell, adding that he has not seen anything like the demand in 47 years working at the company.

"Containers have been coming in every day but the last container is coming in tomorrow," he said.

Mr Dalzell was speaking yesterday before going back to dealing with the crush of the crowds in his store.

The company first flagged up the demand in a tweet which read: "Meanwhile, on the stranger side of things #coronavirus related - chest, upright and table-top freezers go out at a rate of more than 100 a day here as people stock up for #QuarantineLife."

Mr Dalzell earlier told the website ArmaghI that he had not "experienced anything like it in my 47 years in the business".

He added: "It began slowly just over a week ago when Italy quarantined several regions and reached the current hectic levels a few days later when the Italian Government extended it nationwide.

"Customers are travelling from as far away as Belfast, Derry and Dublin.

"On one morning last week we had queues form at one of our warehouses to collect chest freezers - purchased from 8.30am - before the warehouse staff arrived in at 9am.

"We are currently sold out of chest freezers but we still have limited stocks of tall upright, under-counter and table-top freezers."

Mr Dalzell said the sales were "on a first come, first serve basis." He added that there was also an increase in sales of smart televisions and home cinema systems as people "are preparing for extended periods of quarantine and, as of today, entertaining the kids at home with the school closures".

Online appliance retailer AO.com told The Guardian that freezer sales jumped more than 200% in one week.

John Lewis told the same newspaper that it noted the number of sales of freezers was three times the normal level for this time of year.

Freezers are normally most in demand before Christmas. Chest freezers were the most popular, the retailers said.

Shop shelves in supermarkets across Northern Ireland have been emptied in recent days with shoppers stocking up on food, hand sanitisers and toilet rolls.

Several stores ran dedicated shopping sessions, with pensioners given special access before general admittance to the public.

Yesterday in England one supermarket had to open early because of huge queues of shoppers, with one man banging his trolley against the door.

Queues of traffic built up on the approach to the Sainsbury's store near Guildford in Surrey, filling the car park before it had even opened.

The shopworkers' union Usdaw has appealed to people not to intimidate staff at supermarkets and other stores.

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