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Coles sells out of hand sanitiser as coronavirus rush hits

Red wine, hand sanitiser and lobsters have all seen unusual sales due to the coronavirus. Images: Woolworths, Dettol

China has shut down seafood imports over coronavirus concerns, pushing the price of lobster up to $15 cheaper per lobster in Australia. 

But it’s not just lobster sales impacted: Australia’s wine exports are expected to be hit, while hand sanitisers are selling out at supermarkets. 

The trade ramifications are part of what experts predict will be a major economic hit from the coronavirus. 

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe on Wednesday said it’s likely the coronavirus will have a bigger impact on Australia’s economy than the 2003 SARS outbreak, while investment bank UBS has warned the virus will cost Australia $1 billion.

We look at some everyday - or almost everyday - items affected by the respiratory illness. 

Hand sanitisers sell out at Coles

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to avoid catching coronavirus is by avoiding exposure and washing your hands with soap and water before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and after going to the bathroom. 

This health advice has been taken on board by Australians, with several retailers including Coles, Woolworths and Priceline experiencing hand sanitiser shortages. 

Image: Coles

“Due to extremely high customer demand, Coles is currently experiencing a shortage of antibacterial handwashes and hand sanitiser products,” a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo Finance. 

Several Coles and Dettol products are registered as unavailable online.

Other brands like Palmolive and Thank You remain available online at Coles. 

Woolworths is also experiencing shortages, with several Woolworths, Palmolive and Dettol Liquid Antibacterial Instant Hand Sanitiser products marked as unavailable online. 

Image: Woolworths

Balnea hand sanitiser remains available online. 

Priceline is also experiencing hand sanitiser shortages, with some of its Dettol, Palmolive and Aqium products listed as out of stock online, but available in store. 

Image: Priceline

Lobsters freed

Lobsters have been freed into the ocean as demand plummets. Image: Getty

Australia and New Zealand have taken to freeing caught lobsters as Chinese demand plummets, with tonnes of live lobsters to be released. 

“It’s pretty much killed that market in the interim,” Queensland Seafood Industry Association chief executive officer Eric Perez told AAP.

“The market has been pulled out from under us.”

The Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative also suspended deliveries of the crayfish from 24 January after it received mass cancellations a day before, in a bid to mitigate the financial pain. 

“Like other seafood markets around the world, we have a very fast moving supply chain so we were amongst the first to feel the commercial impact of Chinese New Year holiday celebrations grinding to a rapid halt.”

Red wine exports take a hit

Wine Australia predicts the coronavirus will see red wine exports take a hit. Image: Getty

Australia’s wine industry, already damaged by the unprecedented bushfires, is expected to take another blow.

China is Australia’s biggest wine export market, but with muted Lunar New Year celebrations and the continuing spread, it’s likely the country will order fewer crates. 

"Looking ahead into 2020, we anticipate that coronavirus will have an impact on sales, particularly to China, but at this stage it is difficult to predict the degree of that impact," Wine Australia in its 2019 export report.

Chief executive Andreas Clark said the virus will create “some headwinds”, although the length of these headwinds is not yet known.

Australia’s biggest winemaker Treasury Wine Estates has also noted the coronavirus risk to operations.

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