By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: After Kuwait shifted from full to partial curfew, confusion over the grocery shopping appointment system has surfaced. It is unclear still if all stores require appointments booked online prior to shopping.

The Co-Op Union announced that it is still required to have an appointment for shopping in co-ops and supermarkets to avoid crowds and long queues. According to the union, shopping in the main branch is only for residents of the area and can be done once every six days, while shopping at the branches of the area can be done twice a week.

However not all co-ops or markets are following this plan exactly. When this reporter tried to book an appointment for a co-op branch in Salwa, the website wouldn’t allow the booking because six days hadn’t passed since the last appointment. When contacting the Co-op Union complaint number on WhatsApp +965 9693-0957, the response said shopping at co-op branches is without appointment.

The confusion further exacerbated the situation in the areas that remain under lockdown. Do residents in these areas need to book a shopping appointment? The Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced that in isolated areas, shopping in co-ops will be available 24 hours.

Tony, a resident of Khaitan, noted that in the past week, he visited the co-op and the other supermarkets in his area around five or six times without being asked for the barcode of his appointment. “But yesterday when I visited a hypermarket, for the first time they asked me for the appointment and didn’t let me in. But I saw they were letting women in without showing any barcode,” he told Kuwait Times.   

When visiting and contacting different co-ops, they all agreed that shopping at branches of co-ops can be done without appointment. Salwa Co-op, Daiya Co-op and Ali Sabah Al-Salem Co-op noted that the various branches of each co-op (not the main branches) are open for shopping from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The branch of Shamiya Co-op operates till 5:00 pm.

However, many places are still requiring the appointment barcode, especially for the main branch. In Hawally, which is one of the isolated areas, consumers noted that they were only allowed into the supermarket with a barcode of their appointment, although it is open 24/7. Another branch of a commercial supermarket in Salmiya also asked people for their appointment booked in advance. At the beginning of June, some commercial supermarkets were letting in shoppers without appointments and some reportedly still are, though it’s unclear if this is standard policy.