Panic buying of food and other basic supplies since Friday’s earthquake have left supermarket and convenience store shelves empty throughout the capital. Traffic congestion has meant that distribution of stock has proved difficult. With electricity shortages resulting in rolling power outages across affected areas, it has become clear that the effects of the earthquake are becoming long-term ones.
In Tokyo’s Minato Ward supermarkets are completely sold out of bottled water, green tea, processed food, bread, bakery items, instant meals and other goods. One shop assistant said, “There are a lot of people stockpiling water. It looks like are customers are going to be inconvenienced for a while.”
In Shibuya, convenience store shelves, usually stocked with fresh goods like sandwiches and rice balls, are empty. One concerned part-timer said, “A lot of customers are asking when we’re going to be receiving new stock but we really have no idea.”
One store owner in Shinjuku said, “This situation reminds me of the oil crisis in the ‘70s. I suppose at the time we couldn’t get our hands on any toilet paper, but this time it’s water and instant food that’s in short supply.”
On Saturdays and Sundays, Ginza has traditionally been transformed into a so-called “pedestrian paradise.” However, given the chaotic state of the roads and the urgent need to replenish basic supplies, the pedestrian paradise was canceled on March 12 and 13. Mitsukoshi, Matsuya, Matsuzakaya and other large department stores have also shortened their opening hours in response to the crisis, most agreeing to close their doors at 6 p.m.
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