The Spanish government wants to prepare the country for a possible worsening of the crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In the midst of growing rumors of shortages - which a few weeks ago caused the hoarding of products such as sunflower oil, flour and milk -, the coalition Executive headed by Pedro Sanchez has introduced a change in the law regulating retail trade to allow stores and supermarkets limit the number of products that can be purchased by each customer.
The Government has introduced this amendment within the framework of the anti-crisis measures decree that it approved on Tuesday. Said decree consists of a € 16-billion package of measures, among which there are discounts on the purchase of fuels, limitations on rental prices and a temporary increase in the Minimum Vital Income (IMV).
But the decree also includes the possibility for stores to ration the sales of certain products, something that until now was prohibited by law.
The government decree emphasizes that rationing will only be permitted in the event of "extraordinary circumstances or force majeure." There is a fear that the panic buying of certain products due to the war in Ukraine or the truckers' strike could aggravate supply problems, as happened, for example, with toilet paper at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and with sunflower oil or milk in recent weeks.
The measure comes on the same day that Spaniards learned that inflation in March was 9.8%, driven by sharp rises in energy, fuel and food prices.
Until now, the Spanish Retail Trade Law was very clear in this regard: "Retailers may not limit the number of items that can be purchased by each buyer or establish higher prices or remove reductions or incentives for purchases that exceed a certain volume. ."
However, in recent weeks several cases have been documented of large retail companies that limited, for example, the number of bottles of sunflower oil or boxes of milk that each customer could buy.
The government thus hopes to prevent any kind of hoarding effect.
In principle, the decree of anti-crisis measures approved by the Council of Ministers on Tuesday will be in force for 3 months, from April 1 to June 30.