Rural towns feeling the virus impacts

A SUPERMARKET in Balranald has been knocked back on an order of 40 different varieties of toilet paper, amid low stock numbers relating to COVID-19 fears.

Balranald IGA store owner and operator Brendan Doyle told The Guardian customers were stocking up on the "essentials".

"We are starting to see the stock (lowering) of what is expected, toilet paper and hand sanitiser," Mr Doyle said.

"There is a fair range when we get across the board, even canned food, sugar and flour.

"All the things you'd expect people to be panic buying, which I would expect would be the same everywhere."

Mr Doyle said the store commenced ordering stock from their warehouse two weeks ago, with stock levels in the Balranald store lowering earlier this week.

"We're getting a load from Melbourne today," he told The Guardian on Monday.

"It's the highest level of stock I've seen on the invoice and we do expect things, unfortunately of stocks levels to get worse."

Mr Doyle said customers were responding "mostly okay" to the store's stock levels.

"We've had a few issues, but it's a bit unfortunate to see that for our staff, it's obviously out of their control," he said.

"We're doing the best that we can and we're trying the best to get that out to our customers and look after our staff at the same time.

"We're lucky being in the country, people may be more tolerant than in the cities."

Mr Doyle said at this time, the store would not allocate a dedicated time for the elderly and people with disabilities to shop in the store.

"A large percentage of our customers are probably elderly, being in a small country town," Mr Doyle said.

"Where we're at with stock levels, we wouldn't be able to prioritise with those levels."

Mr Doyle said with the business having a high turnover with low margins, if it came to closing the store due to the virus, it would be "very, very damaging".

"We're high risk in dealing with the public and handling money," he said.

"It's getting difficult when you can't buy hand sanitiser. They (the warehouse) don't have any hand sanitiser and none coming in.

"It will probably take a long time for things to recover, because manufacturing can't fill the gap in that short amount of time."

The only other supermarket in Balranald, Foodworks Balranald, was also contacted but did not wish to comment.