A sale at the George Street, Sydney branch of Chemist Warehouse saw a queue of shoppers winding around the block
The popularity of the sale last week meant that staff at the pharmacy had to introduce a queue system for customers to wait to get inside, reports the Daily Mail.
The sale and long queues attracted speculation on the social media site Reddit about the ultimate destination of goods purchased, with several commentators explaining that the shoppers were likely selling them in the Chinese market.
It was a “blood bath” at the Chemist Warehouse George Street outlet, wrote one Reddit user, with people “literally” climbing on top of one another.
Another user described the pharmacy as a “nightmare”.
A third explained that the shoppers were likely daigou – people and businesses who buy highly sought-after goods, such as infant formula or vitamins, “on behalf of” end users in China.
“Australian made products and Australian sourced products are reaching high prices in China as the domestically produced stuff cannot be trusted,” they wrote.
“Those people mainly are students in that queue, and this is how they make money to live (pays well $30,000 – $300,000 p/a depending on how much work you put in.”
The daigou channel, worth an estimated $850 million, is becoming increasingly recognised, and an Australia China Daigou Association was launched in February this year to help formalise the channel and address ethical concerns around it.
Pharmacy groups such as Chemsave are also actively targeting it.
Mainstream media reports around the My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse group’s embrace of daigou have largely been negative, with the Herald Sun reporting in April that infant formula was “raided” at a Melbourne My Chemist before parents were able to buy formula for their own children.
In late 2017 a teenage boy appeared on A Current Affair with what Nine called “stunning” footage of a “pick and pack” formula store at a Melbourne Chemist Warehouse.
The boy and his family had been challenging shoppers of Asian appearance around Melbourne and filming confrontations with them.
According to the Daily Mail, scenes such as that at the George Street store were now becoming “a regular occurrence”.