Not again! Supermarkets reintroduce restrictions as panic buying resumes

Jun 26, 2020
One store on Melbourne has reintroduced purchase limits on toilet paper. Source: Getty.

When Covid-19 first began to spread across Australia, people rushed to their local supermarket to stock up on essential items such as toilet paper, pasta, rice and flour. However supermarket chains were forced to introduce strict purchase limits on a range of goods as panic buying left shelves bare, with many customers unable to get their hands on necessary items.

In the weeks and months that followed, customers finally stopped buying such items in bulk and one by one supermarket chains, such as Aldi, Woolies and Coles, were able to ease restrictions and allow shoppers to return to their usual buying habits. Now though, months on from the initial outbreak of coronavirus, supermarket chains have been forced to reintroduce limits as shoppers begin panic buying once again.

A sign was spotted at the Coles Craigieburn store in Victoria this week, following a rise in the number of cases in the state. The snap, taken by 7News journalist Paul Dowsley and shared on Twitter, shows a yellow sign which reads: “We wish to advise that the limit on toilet paper is 4 per customer.”

Coles has since announced it is implementing a number of temporary measures to improve the availability of key products and ensure shopper safety in its Victorian stores. Shoppers will now be able to purchase just one item of toilet paper or paper towels, and two of the following: hand sanitiser, sugar, flour, pasta, mince, UHT milk, eggs and rice.

While Woolies has also reinstated a limit of two items per person on toilet paper, hand sanitiser, paper towel, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, long-life milk, eggs and rice across all Victorian stores. The restrictions came back into effect on Wednesday.

Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said: “We understand many Victorians are anxious about the recent community outbreak, but they can be assured our stores will remain open with plenty of stock in our warehouses to replenish our shelves.

“While we have healthy stock levels to draw on, we’re taking this precautionary step to help prevent excessive buying and support appropriate social distancing in our Victorian stores.

“We have more than enough product for all of our customers if we all just buy what we need in our weekly shop. We’ll closely monitor demand across Victoria in the coming days and look to wind back the limits as soon as we can.”

It comes just weeks after the last buying restrictions were scrapped, with Woolies becoming the final supermarket to return to business as usual earlier this month.

“We are pleased to lift all purchase limit restrictions today, ” Managing Director Claire Peters said in a statement on June 15. “This is a big milestone and a positive sign following months of hard work from our teams and significant support from our suppliers to ensure the replenishment of our shelves during a period of extraordinary demand.

“We are thankful to everyone for their patience with us over these last few months.”

Coles began easing its restrictions in April, beginning with limits on mince meat and fresh milk, before lifting all restrictions on May 29.

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