Coles and Woolworths bring back purchase limits as panic buyers return to supermarkets

Coles and Woolworths have been forced to reintroduce limits on some household staples after a fresh round of panic buying from shoppers, seemingly concerned about a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Following talks with the Federal and Victorian governments, along with other retailers, Coles Group CEO Steve Cain said the supermarket will be reinstating temporary purchasing limits in Victorian stores to help manage the demand for certain items, including toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

“We ask that customers continue to shop normally so that everyone can have access to the food and groceries as they need,” he said.

Supermarket purchase limits in Victoria

The per-customer buying limits detailed below now apply to Coles stores across Victoria, as well as for customers in Lavington, Albury and Deniliquin in NSW.

  • Toilet paper: 1
  • Paper towels: 1
  • Hand sanitiser: 2
  • Flour: 2
  • Sugar: 2
  • Pasta: 2
  • Mince: 2
  • UHT milk: 2
  • Eggs: 2
  • Rice: 2

Coles is not the only supermarket to feel the heat of panic buying, with Woolworths also placing a limit of two packs per customer on the same items at stores in Victoria. The limits on toilet paper and paper towels apply nationwide.

Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director, Claire Peters, reassured shoppers that there will be enough stock in its warehouses to fill the 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,” she said.

“We have more than enough product for all 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.”

Many shoppers have already noticed a short supply of stock in stores and expressed their shock on social media.

“The shelves were stocked full but she bought about 12 bottles of handwash and a trolley full of paper rolls and toilet paper. She was going crazy and even decided halfway through paying she didn’t have enough paper rolls and went to get another packet,” one user posted on the ALDI Facebook page.

Other users posted their experiences on the ALDI Fans Australia Facebook page, with one uploading a picture of their local store being sold out of toilet paper.

“We went to Costco Casula yesterday and most people are filling up their trolley with toilet paper again,” another person commented.

Purchase limits were originally placed on several grocery items at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, including rice, pasta, eggs, flour and milk, as well as various hygiene-related products.

Picture credits: Zorro Stock Images/

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