Largest Hypermarket Chain In Russia's Far East Imposes Limits Amid Buying Frenzy

The largest hypermarket chain in Russia’s Far East is restricting how much sugar, salt, and other essential foods people can purchase amid a buying frenzy triggered by fears of future shortages.

Samberi, which has 30 hypermarkets in nine cities in the Far East, announced restrictions on 10 items, including baby food, on its social media page on March 12.

“In essence, we are seeing signs of speculative demand. People are buying from us at reasonable prices and reselling them in other stores at higher prices,” Samberi said.

The hypermarket said demand for sugar has risen 400 percent compared with the average and that the sizes of individual purchases resemble what a small neighborhood retail store would buy, implying owners of mom-and-pop shops could be turning to Samberi to fill up their empty shelves.

Russians have been panicking about the prospects of food and goods shortages ever since the United States and its allies imposed punishing financial sanctions on the country after it invaded Ukraine.

The sanctions caused the Russian ruble to tumble by about 30 percent, driving the price of imported foods and goods higher and raising concerns whether local companies would still be able to receive foreign products.

Samberi is restricting the purchase of sugar, flour, buckwheat, pasta, and rice to 10 kilograms; cooking oil to 10 liters; salt to 3 kilograms; saury fish to 10 cans; baby food mix to three cans, and Pampers to five packs.

The post generated more than 700 comments, with some shoppers saying they are seeing people scoop up packs of Coca-Cola after the U.S. drink maker announced it would temporarily shut its operations in Russia in protest of the war.