By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Super Value’s principal yesterday voiced hope that new shopping restrictions will “work better than what’s happening now” and enable him to reverse a 20 percent increase in overtime payroll.
Rupert Roberts told Tribune Business that the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 related plan for every household to designate a single shopper, and introduce a schedule where that person can only shop on certain days, would enable customers to spend more time in stores.
Emphasising that he was “100 percent in favour” of already-enacted social distancing measures, the Super Value chief said sales at some of his larger stores had dropped by between five to ten percent compared to the prior week due to customers having to queue in-line before they can enter.
“I hope that works better than what’s happening now,” Mr Roberts said of the new measures unveiled by Dr Hubert Minnis on Sunday evening. “Our sales are actually off in the big stores because people can’t get into shop. It’s different areas, but it’s five to ten percent down in the big stores. Winton seemed to be the exception. They did a little more.
“The other big stores couldn’t get the sales in. The social distancing has really slowed down the rate of shopping, but I’m not surprised. I expected the sales to go down this week, not because they were panicked shopping, but the customers have been there and couldn’t get in. At Cable Beach on Sunday they were line up the whole length of the shopping centre from Super Value to Wendy’s.
“We are spreading them out, and it’s half the spend it used to be as they cannot get the shopping in. The wait is too long. Right now it’s going to slow. They’re lined up and they just cannot shop. We’re not going to do the sales with restricted shopping that we did with unrestricted shopping.”
Mr Roberts suggested that the Prime Minister’s latest shopping restrictions will reduce the number of persons visiting food stores, and in doing so cut the length of time they have to wait outside under the already-announced social distancing protocols.
He added that many were likely visiting supermarkets as a way to escape the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, treating it as an “outing” and way to escape the confines of their home.
Warning the Government against any further cuts to shopping hours, Mr Roberts told Tribune Business: “We used to stay open until 9pm. Now it’s 7pm, but even with that overtime payroll went up 20 percent because we have to keep more people on the job to keep up the same level of service.
“I hope it works out better. If not we’ll report it to the authorities what’s happening and hope they tweak it.”