Major supermarkets including Woolworths and Coles are tightening shopping limits on household staples as the coronavirus buying hysteria continues.
Purchase restrictions were initially put in place to cope with the onslaught of shoppers panic buying essential items like toilet paper and long-life foods, in preparation for potential self-isolation or quarantine measures. However, the sheer magnitude of demand for grocery items is forcing supermarkets to impose tougher buying limits on more products each day to keep shelves stocked. Most stores have also temporarily suspended their change-of-mind refund policy to discourage over-purchasing.
Last week, supermarkets took the extraordinary step of introducing a new shopping hour, from 7am to 8am on weekdays, dedicated to seniors and the disabled, so they can shop for necessities in less crowded aisles during the outbreak. Coles, Woolies and ALDI have also reduced trading hours to give staff enough time to restock shelves and clean stores for the next day.
Despite this, loo rolls are still hard to come by, along with hand sanitiser, which remains largely sold out. Both products remain limited to one pack per customer at all major supermarkets including Woolies, Coles, ALDI and Costco.
Here are the latest purchasing restrictions major supermarkets have imposed on low-stock grocery items:
The following products are limited to two items per customer:
- mince (includes beef, pork, lamb, chicken & turkey)
- dry and chilled pasta
- canned tomatoes
- frozen vegetables
- frozen desserts
- dried rice
- chilled white milk (includes all sizes of Coles and branded white dairy milk, plant-based non-dairy and goats milk sold chilled in dairy fridges in supermarkets and at Coles Express)
- UHT long-life milk
- paper towels
- paper tissues
- hand sanitisers
- liquid soap
Coles confirmed the supermarket has increased the number of deliveries to its stores to shore up supply of long-life pantry staples and healthcare items.
In a continued effort to ensure our customers have the opportunity to purchase grocery items Coles have implemented a few more changes. For updates on product availability & the temporary suspension to our change-of-mind policy please head to our website. https://t.co/mS51Csb2TJ
— Coles Supermarkets (@Coles) March 13, 2020
Woolworths has imposed a blanket two-items-per-person limit on any single category of packaged products or section (such as coffee), regardless of the brand or variety, across Woolworths supermarkets and Metro stores and online.
Woolies has also imposed a limit of one item per customer (per shop) on the following products:
- toilet paper
- baby wipes
- antibacterial wipes
- paper towel
- rice (2kg+)
Here are the product categories there are currently no limits on:
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- meat (excluding mince)
- fresh Milk
- canned Fish
- drinks (ambient and chilled)
- baby Food
- Easter confectionery and merchandise
- wet pet food
Woolies says it is working with its suppliers to prioritise the production of smaller packs of toilet paper, which the retailer said will be available in larger quantities online and in stores this week.
When your usual grocery shopping @woolworths turns into a toilet paper fight in the supermarket aisle. Yikes. #toiletpaperpanic for the #coronavirus has taken a whole new level. pic.twitter.com/aKJ283I20C
— Adella Beaini (@adellabeaini) March 7, 2020
ALDI has also imposed buying restrictions to most food, hygiene products and essential items; regardless of the brand, weight or variety. The purchase of toilet paper is still limited to one pack per customer in most stores. The following products are limited to two items per customer:
- mince meat
- dry and fresh pasta
- dry rice )
- paper towels
- hand sanitisers
- liquid soap
There are also temporary restrictions on the following products:
- microwave rice – 6 units
- serviettes – 10 units
- UHT long-life milk – 6 units
- antibacterial wipes – 10 units
- canned foods – 10 units
A spokesperson for the German discount supermarket said they’re assessing ways to further assist shoppers to access essential groceries. “We encourage customers to keep an eye on the ALDI Facebook page for the latest information,” the spokesperson said.
A toilet paper panic-buying stampede when Aldi store doors open in Sydney.
This is ridiculous..
— Keira Savage (@KeiraSavage00) March 10, 2020
Bulk goods seller Costco also continues to enforce some buying limits, with members only allowed to buy one 48-pack of toilet paper and one bottle of sanitiser, the retailer has said.
Baby formula is also restricted to one item per member, while life-long products are still available for bulk purchase. Costco Managing Director Patrick Noone said the company would review and change its caps as needed.
Metcash, a wholesaler that supplies groceries to IGA, has imposed limits on items that the stores can purchase from its warehouse. Most IGA supermarkets have a one-item-per-person limit on toilet paper, however independently-owned stores can choose to place their own restrictions on items.
We’ll update you as soon as we’re back stock ❤️ ? ? pic.twitter.com/d7vcVDVbZB
— Who Gives A Crap (@WhoGivesACrapTP) March 13, 2020
The ‘panic buying’ has also seen popular sustainable toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap sell out of its products nationwide.
Picture credits: Stuart Perry/shutterstock.com