Persistent reports, fuelled by social media speculation, of 'busloads of shoppers' denuding local supermarkets in organised raiding tours, have not been supported by local supermarkets.
While anecdotal stories do the rounds on Facebook, hard evidence of the existence of planned strikes on shelves of drygoods, sanitizers and the evergreen toilet paper hoarding is very thin.
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There are no photographs of the allegedly hired buses, and a spokesperson for Christian's Bus Ballarat said it would be 'absolute madness' for any bus company to drive to another town for the purpose of raiding a supermarket.
"It would be the worst advertising for your company you could imagine, wouldn't it?" they said.
The spokesperson said there had been absolutely no approaches to Christian's for bus hire aimed at predatory shopping, nor would the company contemplate being involved in such a plan, in the unlikely event of it being suggested.
In Clunes, the local IGA supermarket had not seen any proof of teams travelling from Melbourne or any other regional centre to plunder their stocks, while closer to Ballarat, Creswick IGA said they had no experience of busloads of out-of-town customers coming to the store, although they were aware of reports and 'prepared' for the possibility.
A store manager told The Courier the most contentious issue of the week so far had been a discussion about introducing more 'Bach and Brahms' into the store's piped music.
The outrage over possible profiteering and outright greed in the current health has led to a frenzy on Facebook groups, with accusations, often racially-based, of 'gangs' and 'convoys' travelling to towns as far apart as Gisborne, Traralgon, Shepparton, Ararat, Woodend and even Numurkah.
In a Shepparton news report, local Barbara Bickoff, 69, said two ladies "who I didn't recognise" allegedly approached her in Safeway, asking where the detergent was kept.
"I asked them where they were from because I hadn't seen them before, and I know most people around here."
Shepparton is a town of 50,000 people.
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