Whether it be 12 bottles of vodka or endless packs of toilet paper, Bay of Plenty residents are stocking up for lockdown.

Lines out shop doors and stores being "inundated" with customers has become the reality for supermarkets and liquor stores across the region over the last 24 hours following the Government's Covid-19 alert level 4 announcement yesterday.

Spending at food and liquor shops nationwide jumped sharply yesterday, reaching a total of $111 million and rising 157 per cent on the same Monday last year.

The New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) was calling for calm as bottle stores across the country were subjected to massive panic buying.


One bottle store chain reported an 1800 per cent spike in sales yesterday alone.

A Rotorua bottle store manager, who did not wish to be named, said within half an hour of yesterday's announcement the store was "inundated" with customers and online ordering had spiked at an unprecedented rate.

Covid-19 coronavirus: What you need to know about Monday's big developments.

He said people were stocking up for the four weeks, whether that be "12 bottles of vodka or a case of this or that".

He said his team was packaging up endless amounts of 24-packs of beer to be sent out to people.

The manager said he had never seen anything like it, especially in March.

His No 1 priority was keeping his staff safe and said they were keeping a distance from the customers where possible.

Brookfield Four Square felt a similar surge of people after the announcement with manager Patrick Pious saying it got "really busy".

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website


He said the number of people coming in was "similar to Christmas".

Although lines were not out the door for many Four Squares, Edmund Rd owner Richard Gallagher said there had definitely been an influx of people but staff were exercising caution.

Cherrywood Four Square owner Regan Arnott said his staff were making sure to exercise social distancing in such busy times with the two-metre rule enforced where possible.

He said customers were up a lot more than usual but it was "nothing outrageous".

Owner of the Bottle-O in Fraser Cove Mangit Singh said it was extremely busy last night but people had calmed down this morning.

However, this was not the case for many local big supermarkets.

Facebook was abuzz with chatter this morning about big lines out the doors of some Tauranga supermarkets.

Papamoa resident Andrew Johnson said he drove past the local Pak'nSave about 8am and saw a queue of shoppers with trolleys waiting to get in that stretched down the road.

"It was madness."

The line outside Westend New World. Photo / Cira Olivier
The line outside Westend New World. Photo / Cira Olivier

Some had facemasks on, he said, while one had a full "wild west-style" bandana.

A Bay of Plenty Times photographer said he saw people's hands being sanitised and gloves being handed out at the Pak'nSave entrance.

Shoppers queue outside Taupo Pakn'Save after the pandemic status is lifted to alert level 3. Photo / Rachel Canning
Shoppers queue outside Taupo Pakn'Save after the pandemic status is lifted to alert level 3. Photo / Rachel Canning

Across town, there was a queue at the entrance of the Bethlehem Countdown with five or six people being let in at once.

Both Countdown HQ and Foodstuffs HQ would not make comments about specific supermarkets and their workflow this morning.

Pak'nSave Rotorua today. Photo / Stephen Parker
Pak'nSave Rotorua today. Photo / Stephen Parker

However, Foodstuffs NZ head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said in a statement stores were imploring people to shop normally and be kind.

A queue of people spaced apart at Rotorua's Westend New World was waiting to be allowed in this morning and shoppers at Pak'nSave Rotorua were seen leaving with facemasks.

NZME reporter Rachel Canning said an orderly queue of people were waiting to get into Pak'nSave Taupō yesterday evening.

"Everyone seemed resigned to a long wait. People coming out were shaking their heads and saying 'It's packed in there'."