Shopkeepers at the Fyshwick Markets have faced abuse from angry shoppers as the prices of staples such as meat and vegetables increase due to supply issues relating to the COVID-19 response.
Shopkeepers say that suppliers have increased their prices and that the shopkeepers are not making additional profits from the sale of their stock.
Marketing manager of the Fyshwick Markets Georgie Houston told Region Media that the forces of supply and demand have forced shopkeepers to increase their prices, with reports of a single head of cauliflower selling for $19.99 at one of the fruit and vegetable retailers and for $13.99 at another.
Ms Houston said that while most people are being patient and helping each other, demand for fresh produce had turned the usually pleasant experience into bedlam and that shopkeepers had faced abuse.
“Thursday [19 March] was mayhem. It was like Christmas Eve.
“At the moment, we’re copping a lot of abuse because prices are going up,” Ms Houston said.
“We’re not making increased profits out of this due to the unnecessary increase in demand. We already had a smaller supply due to the drought and fires.”
Ms Houston said one of their butchers had received an order for $600 worth of meat, as well as high demand for items such as eggs and vegetables with a longer shelf life.
“Our shopkeepers are constantly restocking, but demand is so big that as soon as they put it on the shelf, it gets taken away.
“We have enough stock, we just ask that people be sensible.”
The Fyshwick Markets will also have a special shopping hour for seniors and their carers every Thursday and Friday morning from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, starting 26 March until further notice. Staff and traders have implemented additional cleaning procedures, including regular disinfecting of communal surfaces.
Some of the traders are also doing increased orders online.
“Due to unnecessary bulk and panic buying, our supply costs have increased, meaning that our stores are paying more for the same product. We are not profiting from this time.
“We’re just trying to tell people to practice kindness. We’re doing our best to support our shoppers and people are getting quite aggressive with the price increases, but all the staff and tenants are trying their best, too.
“If people can just be reasonable with their shopping, there should be no shortage of supply,” Ms Houston said.
Organic fruit and vegetable business owner Claire Stewart, who operates Arc Organics, said she has also faced a big increase in costs from her suppliers.
She said that an 8 kg box of broccoli was usually between $45 and $50, but had increased to $90 this week. Cauliflower was $7 per head.
Claire said she had not increased her prices, but there would be slightly fewer items included in her mixed boxes of fruit and vegetables.
However, one business has seen the demand as an opportunity to get some much-needed cashflow by slashing its prices. That store is Beyond Q bookstore at Cooleman Court, which marking down all its stock by 40 per cent.
Owners Jenni Lawton and Simon Maddox said that while they are facing a “very uncertain future” due to the coronavirus, they want to say thank you to the people who have supported them.
“We want our doors to stay open to all of you for a long time to come, but right now we can’t guarantee that they will,” Jenni said.
“So, as a thank you to all, and as a way to raise some much-needed revenue, we are selling books, magazines and records at a huge 40 per cent discount.
“The discount sale begins this Saturday [21 March] and will continue for at least a week.
“So please come in and find yourself a treasure for a great price, and enjoy it over a coffee and cake,” Jenni said.