Sales of flashlights and gas burners have skyrocketed at the M. Maldonado hardware store. / SALVADOR SALAS

Fear of a hypothetical blackout clears stocks of gas stoves and torches on the Costa del Sol

Sales of products that run on gas or batteries have skyrocketed even though the authorities say "there are no clear indications" that the electricity supply will falter

SUSANA ZAMORA

After the compulsive stockpiling of toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic comes the hysteria to stock up on torches, gas stoves and, in general, any product that would make life easier in the case of a blackout.

The information campaign launched by the Austrian Ministry of Defence alerting its citizens to a possible power outage, "which will affect not only the country, but the whole of Europe," has spread like wildfire throughout the continent.

Rumours of a hypothetical blackout have also reached Spain, fuelled by television programmes that have disseminated the statements from the Austrian authorities ("The question is not whether there will be a great blackout, but when," said the minister) or the recommendations contained in the guide What To Do When Everything Stops, with practical advice on what materials should be kept at home to be prepared in case of a blackout.

Although it seems unlikely that Spain’s electricity supply will go out, fear has infected the people of Malaga, who have run to hardware stores in search of products that will guarantee them light and a hot meal at home.

However, Red Eléctrica España, which operates the national electricity grid, dismissed these fears in a statement: "There are no objective indications that suggest that a blackout will occur throughout the country," it pointed out.

Despite the reassuring message, this hasn’t convinced people too much in Malaga, where sales of flashlights, gas stoves and batteries have skyrocketed in the last ten days.

"It's all people have been thinking about since they said there was going to be a blackout on TV,” said Eduardo Palma, owner of a Malaga hardware store.

His shop has completely run out of gas stoves and torches, among other items that don't require electricity.

Another shopkeeper says he has gone from selling five gas stoves a month to 40.

"Our stocks for one year have been sold in the last month," confirmed José María Machuca, who is in charge of the shop.

In large DIY stores such as Leroy Merlin, they have seen an increase in demand of 211% in generator sets and 230% in flashlights since 25 October.

"The demand for solar energy kits, paraffin or pellet stoves without electrical connection and batteries has also increased a lot,"said company sources.