Two supermarts hit by 'free groceries' frenzy

PONTIAN • Two supermarkets in Johor were crowded with shoppers yesterday after rumours spread that the Johor Crown Prince was coming to pay for their groceries, according to reports in the Malaysian media.

One supermarket was Econsave in Pontian town in south-west Johor, and another was Aeon Big in Kluang, central Johor.

The prince had on Wednesday forked out over RM1 million (S$338,000) on groceries for shoppers at the Aeon Tebrau supermarket in Johor Baru.

In Pontian, about 1,000 shoppers arrived as early as 10am, though they were informed through public announcements that the news was fake. Many rushed to fill their shopping carts in the Econsave supermarket, Sinar Harian newspaper reported.

They showed up after a voice recorded on a viral WhatsApp message convinced them that Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim was indeed coming. The message said the prince will be visiting districts in Johor to pay for people's groceries.

Police were called in to control heavy traffic outside the building.

Meanwhile, Sin Chew Daily News reported that in Kluang town, dozens of people crowded into the Aeon Big supermarket following rumours that the prince was coming.

Sin Chew said it observed over 100 customers gathering at the supermarket around 2pm, with some of them filling up their trolleys with goods. Others joined in after hearing of the rumour.

Econsave Pontian manager Mas Imran Adam said about 300 shopping carts filled with goods were abandoned after people learnt the prince was not coming, Sinar said.

"Many items were damaged and we have a big job of clearing it up," Ms Mas Imran said.

"To make matters worse, many refused to believe that Tunku Ismail was not coming despite multiple announcements that the news was fake," she said.

She was quoted as saying by New Straits Times newspaper: "What saddened us was that some of the people who came were disabled people and senior citizens who did not want to miss out on the free shopping frenzy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2018, with the headline 'Two supermarts hit by 'free groceries' frenzy'. Print Edition | Subscribe