If you thought panic buying in Australia was out of control, it doesn’t hold a candle to what’s happening in the Hamptons, where rich shoppers are taking it to a whole new level.
New York’s rich elite have evacuated to their holiday houses in the upmarket region, where they are spending thousands of dollars on their grocery shopping.
And it’s not canned beans and rice they’re grabbing, but whole trays of salmon, fancy steaks and rare bottles of wine.
“I had one customer spend $8000,” said Joe Gurrera, founder of supermarket chain Citarella, told the New York Post. “You know when you see someone with a full shopping cart? Now they have five.
“Instead of asking for one or two steaks on a tray, a customer will buy the whole tray. Then they’ll move on to shrimp, and buy all the shrimp, and then they’ll buy all the salmon steaks.
“Instead of asking for a slice of lasagna, they’ll buy all of it. Then they’ll buy all of our root vegetables.
“Business is insane.”
One Citarella customer told the Hollywood Reporter: “A couple walked in [to Citarella] with full-on hazmat suits. They looked like spacemen — it was surreal.’’
A film industry source in Bridgehampton added: “I saw one woman early on with a shopping cart just completely full of tomatoes — she cleaned them out.
“The social fabric is disintegrating; it’s like a Twilight Zone episode.’’
One socialite told the Post she’s spending $300 to $1000 a day on food and supplies for her husband, daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend and their dogs.
Amazon and Fresh Direct are declining grocery delivery orders in the area due to lack of stock.
The fight for the best booze
Things are equally crazy in Hamptons liquor stores.
The owner of Wainscott Main Wine & Spirits (above) near East Hampton, Joel Kaye, reports business was up 500% last Friday compared with the same day last year, with rich shoppers spending $400 to $2000 at a time, instead of the normal $75.
“Our clients are stocking up their wine cellars, buying things like eight bottles of a good $200 Napa burgundy, instead of one bottle,” Kaye said.
Tom Desmond, a store manager at Wines by Morrell in East Hampton, told Bloomberg: “people are buying cases instead of a bottle or two.”
It follows reports of panic buying at liquor stores throughout the US.
In Seattle, Chicago and Boston, sales of wine, beer and liquor last week were up 300-500%, with the average basket spend about 30% above normal levels.