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Let's discuss panic-buying at the supermarket

This week’s featured article

Supermarkets and convenience stores decided Thursday to stay open as usual in the coming days, after a request by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s for residents in the capital not to leave home over the weekend.

On the other hand, some operators of entertainment facilities such as movie theaters and amusement parks responded to Wednesday’s stay-at-home request by making decisions to close temporarily.

“We’re going to do business as usual because we’re supplying goods essential for daily life,” said an official at supermarket giant Aeon Co.

Rival Ito-Yokado Co., which has already introduced reduced business hours at some of its stores, will continue its services as well.

So will grocery store operator Life Corp., although the company will refrain from handing out sales flyers for 121 outlets in the Tokyo metropolitan area between Saturday and April 3 “to ease in-store congestion and maintain a stable supply of goods.”

The three leading convenience store operators — Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Lawson Inc. and FamilyMart Co. — will continue regular operations except for some outlets.

Following Koike’s request, many people scrambled to supermarkets to hoard food, putting some products — including instant noodles, rice and frozen dishes — out of stock.

“It was fortunate that today was my day off,” said a 35-year-old company worker with four grocery sacks in her hands after shopping at a supermarket in Chuo Ward, Tokyo. “I want this situation to end soon.”

An official at a supermarket industry group said, “Product logistics are going well, and the low supply of products will be resolved gradually, so stay calm.”

Department store operator Sogo & Seibu Co. also decided to continue services at its stores through the weekend while maintaining its current shortened hours.

On the other hand, Takashimaya Co., another department store operator, said it would close goods sales floors at three stores in Tokyo and Yokohama on Saturday and Sunday, while allowing restaurants at the outlets to open on shortened business hours.

Skylark Holdings Co. will not run late night services at any of its 275 restaurant stores, including Gusto family restaurants, and end at midnight for both days this weekend.

Starbucks Japan said it would close all stores in Tokyo, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures on Saturday and Sunday.

In the entertainment industry, Shochiku Co. will shutter movie theaters in Tokyo and Kanagawa on Saturday and Sunday, and suspend its late-at-night services thereafter.

Seibu Holdings Inc. has decided to shut amusement parks Toshimaen, in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, and Seibuen, in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture as well as Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, an aquarium-amusement park complex in Yokohama, for the time being starting Saturday. Toshimaen resumed operations only five days ago following a previous closure due to the virus.

Article first published in The Japan Times on March 27.

Warm up

One-minute chat about grocery shopping.

Game

Collect words related to weekends,

e.g., relax, rest, run errands, Saturday, etc.

New words

1) essential: absolutely necessary, e.g., “Vegetables are essential for your diet.”

2) congestion: excessive crowding, “Traffic congestion is a problem at the start and end of Golden Week.”

3) logistics: the organizing and handling of an operation, e.g., “The logistics of postponing the Olympics are very complex.”

Guess the headline

Tokyo food stores to open over weekend as t_ _ _ _ parks and c_ _ _ _ _ _ close

Questions

1) What was Gov. Yuriko Koike’s request?

2) What happened at supermarkets after Gov. Koike’s announcement?

3) Why were supermarket officials urging calm?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you usually do on the weekends?

2) What do you think about the request to refrain from going out?

3) Do you have any concerns about being able to buy food?

Reference

世界各国で都市封鎖が起きている中で、これまで大規模な活動制限はしてこなかった東京が、外出に関してとうとう一段階強い要請を打ち出しました。それによる危機感と焦りから多くのスーパーに人が殺到し、多くの人が密集するエリアとなってしまったことは皮肉な矛盾ともいえるでしょう。

不安な心理状況が混乱を呼び、本来は十分にあるはずの日用品を手に入りにくいものへと変えてしまっている現実があります。このような状況下で私たちが今できる行動はなんなのでしょうか。

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