Woolworths has been forced to take drastic action in response to backlash over its plastic bag ban, just hours after Coles announced it would be opening every checkout to help deal with panicked customers this weekend.
Supermarket giant Woolies confirmed it will provide free reusable bags to anyone who forgets or needs an extra bag over the next 10 days, to help phase in the new ban.
It comes as stores are hit with a stream of complaints from angry customers who either get stuck at the checkout when they forget to bring enough of their own bags, or don’t agree with having to pay for bags once there.
The supermarket confirmed their temporary U-turn is in direct response to the backlash over the ban in all their stores in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA.
Woolworths Supermarkets’ Managing Director Claire Peters said in a statement to Starts at 60: “Since we phased out single-use plastic bags nationwide on the 20th of June some customers have told us that getting into the habit of bringing their own reusable bags has been a challenge.
“While some customers have forgotten their reusable bags altogether, many have done the right thing and brought their own only to end up one or two reusable bags short. We’ve listened to these customers and heard they just want a little extra help from us to get through the transition to a more sustainable and greener way of shopping.”
The complimentary bags will be available until Sunday, July 8, in the hopes it will help remind customers they will need to bring them back each time they shop from then on.
It comes after Coles announced it would open every checkout in preparation for the panic, as stores introduce their own plastic bag ban on Sunday.
“To minimise disruption to our customers and help them with the transition to no single-use plastic bags, all checkouts will be open in Coles stores between 10am and 6pm on Sunday 1 July,” a spokesman told 9 News.
“In addition to this, from Monday 2 July through to Sunday 8 July, we will open extra checkouts in states where bags will be removed for the first time.
“Specifically, additional checkouts will be open in between 9am and 9pm in New South Wales and Victoria, and 9am and 7pm in Queensland and Western Australia.”