Updates to this story
Shoppers in Hamilton, New Zealand were baffled on Good Friday when the local supermarket’s doors opened to reveal that the staff had seemingly vanished, putting their Christian morality to the test on that most holy of days.
But this was not a sign from the Almighty that his flock should be able to stock up on the essentials even unto religious holidays.
In fact, a glitch in the supermarket’s computer system meant that the store was opened promptly at 8am on a day when all of the staff, and a furious owner, were unaware of the unfolding events at the shop.
So what do you do when left with a whole supermarket entirely devoid of security staff? Embark on a Supermarket Sweep style trolley dash? Allow encroaching Catholic guilt to persuade you that God has decided to test the faithful, damning those caught pilfering sandwiches on the sly to an eternity in which every circle of hell is designated for petty criminals?
It seemed about half and half, with 12 of those who turned up at the shop filling their trolleys and heading off through the automatic doors, while another 12 showed that they had been listening in Sunday school and paid at the self service check out.
The remainder of the 50 people who turned up at the shop took a few looks around the deserted aisles and headed away from the scene of what turned out to be an accidental social behaviour study.
Of course some people have to ruin the fun, and police were eventually called at 9.20am when there were reports of opportunist shoppers leaving with “truckloads of groceries”.
When the store manager Glenn Miller was initially informed about the situation he was furious, and scared that thousands of dollars of stock could have been walked out of the door.
However, when he realised that many had actually paid or neglected to pilfer the aisles he was more upbeat about the situation.
“I can certainly see the funny side…but I would rather not have the publicity to be honest,” Miller said. “It makes me look like a bit of a dickhead.”
Miller has now launched an appeal to get money back from those who neglected to pay for their goods, pledging that the money will go to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, though no one has come forward yet.