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German retailer needs student workers to restock shelves

German supermarket chain calls for students whose universities have shut due to the coronavirus crisis to help it refill its shelves after shoppers stockpiled many essential goods, known as “hamstering” in German.

People across the world have been panic-buying goods from toilet rolls to paracetamol as governments apply ever more stringent restriction on daily life to curb the spread of the virus.

Germany’s second-biggest supermarket group REWE said anybody who wanted to work in its stores could apply directly, without any complications, including students who might be looking for something to do because their universities are closed.

“We at REWE and Penny will continue to make sure that people in Germany are adequately supplied with food. Everyone can rely on this,” REWE chief executive Lionel Souque said of the group’s REWE supermarkets and Penny discount stores.

At a REWE store in Berlin, shopper had scrambled to the shelves stripping them off of bare toilet paper, tinned good, long-life milk and butter.

This was despite the fact staff were rushing to keep up with buyers in stocking the shelves.

British retailers came together to warn hoarding could lead to vulnerable people missing out on important basic necessities and especially medial staff who care for the affected patients.

All the while, Dutch Prime minister Mark Rutte told shoppers to stop stockpiling goods.

German retail association (HDE) denied rumors that opening hours of stores could be restricted and assured shoppers that its members could meet their needs, despite the strain on logistics.

“There are enough products on the market. Nevertheless, bottlenecks for one or the other product will be temporarily unavoidable,” said HDE general manager Stefan Genth. He added, “If all households stockpile for a longer period than usual, this can quickly overstretch the existing supply structures”.

 There were long lines at supermarkets in the southern German state of Bavaria even as it relaxed its usual tight limits on Sunday openings and said essential stores would be allowed to open on Sundays from midday to 6 p.m during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no need for ‘hamster’ purchases,” said Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder.