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Asia CommentTaipan

To buy, or not to buy? That is the question

Beijing

When your home city is rumoured to be going into lockdown, hedging your bets is the best option

In most countries in the West, lockdowns already seem to be a thing of the past, with most nations opening up and learning to live with Covid.

In China, though, the strict zero-Covid strategy means life remains at a near-standstill for many of its 1.2bn residents. Although Shanghai is on the verge of relaxing restrictions after months of lockdown, things are now looking dire in the capital Beijing.

But from what I’ve seen and heard in the past few days, we bankers can certainly learn a thing or two from the city’s residents.

You see, when Covid cases started to rise in Beijing, rumours about a possible Shanghai-like lockdown began.

Naturally, people thought to rush to supermarkets to load up on food and other necessities. But they also went with a plan for their panic ‘buying’.

One of my friends saw people loading up shopping trolleys, but then standing at the checkout counters while waiting for the start of a press conference from the Beijing government confirming whether the lockdown rumours were true.

Their plan? To pay for things if the lockdown was happening, but, if not, then simply to leave.

When officials denied there was to be any lockdown, the people at the supermarket cheered and then left their full trollies behind. Now that’s what I would call a perfect hedge.