The Australian Consumer Law Centre has called for a review of laws that prevent people from shopping for children’s apparel in stores, after shoppers abandoned carts in Westport and Dorchester.

The store closures followed an 8.5 magnitude earthquake on Saturday, leaving dozens of people dead and millions of dollars in damage.

“I’ve been shopping with my husband and his family for over 30 years, and we’re now out of the market,” said Debbie Pinder, from Weston.

Mrs Pinder said she felt “absolutely devastated” by the earthquake, but her children and grandchildren were shopping in the same store.

It was “not right”, she said.

Her son and daughter-in-law are both parents of three children.

“[It’s] been really hard,” she said, adding that she had been trying to buy groceries at a local grocery store.

“I just can’t afford the groceries.”

Aboriginal People’s Council chief executive Michelle Martin said the laws were “completely unfair” and a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act.

In a statement, she said the government had been “very clear” about the impact the earthquakes would have on families and businesses.

She urged the government to review the laws, and said “the laws are clearly broken”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the department was working to assist local governments.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Energy said the “Australian Consumer Law Center has made submissions to the Federal Government about the legislation, which is being reviewed by the Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science”.

“We expect to receive the submissions and respond in due course.”

More to come.