FOR two Warrnambool-based freight companies the past month has seen volumes of groceries through their depots normally only seen in holiday periods.
Drivers have hauled food, toilet paper and medical goods around the south-west and interstate, as coronavirus-fanned panic buying emptied shelves, despite experts deeming shoppers' behaviour unnecessary.
Ryans Group has received about 140 pallets a night, a number that owner Graham Ryan said was similar to Christmas grocery levels.
"Instead of one pallet you get three or four pallets of certain products," Mr Ryan said.
"It's more your Christmas level of groceries when food is hot on the trot ... it's starting to level out a little bit now."
The company picks up supplies from the supermarket giant Woolworths' Adelaide distribution centre before delivering to about nine stores in the south-west.
"We are an essential services industry, and we are very lucky to keep our 120 employees in work," Mr Ryan said.
But he said it was critical drivers also practiced good hygiene and remained healthy at this time.
"I give all credit to people in the frontline at the moment, health workers, truck drivers, supermarket workers," Mr Ryan said.
Allens Freight owner Leigh Allen said the business supplied IGA in Warrnambool and noted things had settled after a "mad fortnight".
"The big test will come after Easter, that's a unique time when things quieten down a bit. Whatever they do with these lock downs will impact on that."
Mr Allen said despite freight being an essential service, he did not believe the industry was immune from a slowdown.
"It's the same as everyone else, it is volatile. In the same breath there is still opportunities out there, freight still has to be moved."
He said the company had a plan to break into two teams if the coronavirus outbreak was to peak.
"Once the work dropped off it would be our intention to split the group ... the week off they would be on holiday pay."
Mr Allen said the last few weeks had been ones to remember.
"There was just enormous amounts of toilet paper go through these depots," Mr Allen said. "Something we will be able to tell the grand kids about one day."
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