S'pore retailers working with suppliers to ensure 'steady supply' of ART kits as demand spikes

Pharmacy chains like Guardian said demand for test kits has doubled since mid-January. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Demand for antigen rapid test (ART) kits has spiked in recent weeks during the Chinese New Year festive period, but retailers say they are ordering more kits to replenish stocks.

Pharmacy chains like Guardian said demand for test kits has doubled since mid-January due to the festivities and more people returning to the workplace.

"This is significantly higher than what we observed in November and December last year," said a spokesman for DFI Retail Group, which owns stores including Guardian, Cold Storage and Giant.

"We have also seen an increase in demand in the past week as more consumers are taking extra precautions and conducting self-tests before their New Year visits."

A check on Guardian's online store on Wednesday (Feb 9) showed that while larger boxes of five and 25-piece boxes of test kits were sold out, there were still individual and two-piece test kits available.

Watsons has also seen a spike in demand in the past two days, at both its physical and online stores.

"Available stocks are snapped up fast upon hitting the stores," said a spokesman.

Currently, it has only individual test kits available for purchase at its online stores, while larger boxes containing multiple test kits are sold out.

Similarly, FairPrice said demand for ART kits has been "elevated" in the past week. ART kits are stocked at various outlets owned by the group, including Unity pharmacies and FairPrice supermarkets.

"This could be due to the heightened number of Covid-19 cases and public awareness on regular testing as a way of life in the evolving Covid-19 situation," said a FairPrice spokesman.

As at Tuesday (Feb 8), the total number of locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in Singapore was 12,791, with 1,194 patients in hospital.

It was the fourth day in a row that hospitalisation numbers had crossed the 1,000 mark.

However, all three retailers have reassured customers that they have sufficient supplies for now.

Said the DFI spokesman: "Currently, Guardian has sufficient supplies. At the same time, we are ordering more and working closely with our suppliers to ensure a steady supply of ART kits."

FairPrice said more stocks are expected to arrive in the next two weeks.

"We continue to work closely with our suppliers to meet the needs of customers," added the spokesman.

Watsons said that in anticipation of more demand, it has placed orders for more supplies as well.

Checks by The Straits Times on RedMart on Wednesday afternoon showed that all ART kits were sold out.

ST understands that the online marketplace is replenishing stocks within the next few days.

ST has also asked the distributors of ART kits for comment.

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