Coronavirus: major UAE retailer places purchase limit on hand sanitisers

Shoppers at Lulu can buy only two hand sanitisers per customer

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 24, 2017:     General view of shoppers at the Lulu Hypermarket in the Al Barsha area of Dubai on March 24, 2017. Christopher Pike / The National

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A major hypermarket chain in the UAE, Lulu, has placed a purchase limit on hand sanitisers to prevent customers from “hoarding or profiteering”.

Shoppers at any one of the firm's 67 branches can only buy two hand sanitisers per customer.

Scarcity fears over hygiene products have been growing worldwide, particularly in the United States where people have been clearing out shop shelves. Toilet paper has also been in high demand.

We've noticed people who are hoarding it at home or they try to sell it online at a higher cost.

Speaking to The National, chief communications officer at Lulu Group, V Nandakumar, said demand for sanitisers and other hygiene products had shot up since the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have strict instructions not to profiteer from this and we have kept a purchase limit on some products. Sometimes, we’ve noticed people who are hoarding it at home or they try to sell it online at a higher cost.

“We are not allowing customers to buy more than two sanitisers and we are encouraging against bulk buying.”

The policy came as a man in America made international headlines for storing 17,000 bottles of hand sanitisers to sell it for profit.

He also bought thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes and listed the products for sale on Amazon. The online retailer later took down his posts.

In the UAE, authorities have warned companies against profiting from hygiene products.

Mr Nandakumar said the hypermarket has bought extra hygiene products to meet the needs of the increased demand.

Carrefour operator Majid Al Futtaim Group said it too was working towards ensuring the supermarket could meet the increasing demand for various cleaning products.

Alain Bejjani, chief executive of the group, took to social media to say: “Our Majid Al Futtaim, Carrefour, are hard at work filling the increasing demand for online orders to ensure that you have what you need and when you need it. And we’ll continue to do so as long as you need us."

He said Carrefour's 'dark stores' - or online shopping facilities - would also stock items and help meet demand.