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Mar 24, 2020

In times of Pandemic, Online Shopping is the Way to Go

Online shopping to stock up for food items is a most convenient way at a time when the country is under threat of COVID-19 and social distancing is a priority. Today, News Five’s Duane Moody headed out to J and W Shopping Mart, which introduced its online services in December 2018. The company is experiencing increase in sales now that shoppers are staying at home. That is the upside, but can suppliers meet the demands? Here is a report with Duane Moody.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Since the announcement of a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Belize, there is a heightened level of awareness. Preventive measures have been put in place across the country—in stores, private businesses, government offices and even at home. Persons are advised to practice social distancing and proper hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Financial institutions and utility companies have been informing its clients about their online platforms to do business. Since December 2018, online shopping for groceries has been provided by J&W Shopping Mart in the King’s Park area of Belize City.


Michael Theus

Michael Theus, Manager, J&W Shopping Mart

“When we actually launch our online about a year ago, we didn’t anticipate that it would have been something that would have been so integral in what we are going through right now. Social distancing has taught us likewise that when you come into the supermarket it is an overcrowded adventure. And now you have the access to be online.”


Manager Michael Theus says that the demand by online shoppers has been so great that the system has been overloaded; so much so that at times orders cannot be met because the items have been sold out.


Michael Theus

“It has been bitter sweet for myself because it has exposed to me exactly how not ready we were as the supermarket online to meet the demands. After the call went out, the use of our online, the interest jumped so much that I cannot actually keep up with what is coming through out online; even internationally, are calling us, sending us email on the site to say how we do this, what to do likewise. And my platform was not able to update the many items that are out of sale right now. So I have begun to try sending emails to person using it to tell them kindly send me an email first with what you require so that I can respond back to you to say we have X, Y and Z and you can order those.”


Physically at the store, a sanitization area has been installed and only a maximum of twenty-five customers are allowed inside the building at any given point. Others waiting outside also have to adhere to the guidelines of social distancing.


Michael Theus

“Once we have a crowd above twenty-five, any person enter, we give them a hand wipe which is soaked in isopropyl alcohol—they first clean their hands and their cart or whatever they will be touching. Once we are at the twenty-five limit, we have some markers outside on the ground to indicate where persons can stand so that we have an orderly fashion when they actually enter the store.”


Theus says that his prediction is that soon international suppliers will not be able to meet the demands of smaller countries like Belize and the importation of goods will cease to happen.


Michael Theus

“I have not seen so much things fly off our shelves so quickly; even my staff, we are overwhelmed trying to restock that. I heard many times, persons arguing about price gouging, but as the manager of J&W, I can speak a little differently. Simply now I realise that importers, U.S. currency are running out, so they have to change it up to Quetzal and Mexican peso and that’s been driving the price up now because they have been changing it from Belize to whatsoever those currencies are. So little up and down, but I am not saying that there wasn’t price gouging. But I ensure that at J&W, I looked at the owners and say these are critical times and we have to be socially conscious and not jump any prices. So what people are seeing on our website are the same prices dictated on our shelves. It’s a pandemic and every country right now is stockpiling their own so I don’t think the companies are actually up to speed to produce so much to facilitate for their population and still do a shipping to Belize or some place. So my solution to persons is be more healthy. Follow the rules, wash your hands on a regular basis, wear your masks and things like that. Those we really need to adhere to because I don’t expect that we will be getting any Lysol or Clorox wipes or hand sanitizers back in the country anytime soon.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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