Coles and Woolworths have been forced to take drastic action after experiencing a huge demand for toilet paper as virus cases spike.
Coles and Woolworths have been forced to take drastic action after experiencing a huge demand for toilet paper as virus cases spike.

Supermarkets slap limits of sought after item on all of us

Coles and Woolworths have implemented purchase limits on toilet paper at all stores across the country after panic buyers stripped the bathroom essential from shelves amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus.

Woolworths has reinstated the previously axed limit on toilet paper and paper towel at all stores across the country, citing a "recent surge in demand across different parts of the country". Shoppers can now purchase two packs per customer.

Its limits of two items per shopper on hand sanitiser, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, UHT milk, eggs and rice still apply in Victoria.

Shoppers at all Coles supermarkets and Coles Express stores as well as the retailer's online store will only be able to purchase one pack of toilet paper and paper towel nationally.

The additional two per customer limits on hand sanitiser, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, UHT milk, eggs and rice in Victoria still apply.

Despite the bold move, Coles have urged customers to "shop normally so that everyone can have access to the food and groceries they need".

Woolworths have called the decision a "preventative" measure "to get ahead of any excessive buying this weekend and help maintain social distancing in our stores".

The spike in virus cases in Victoria appears to have caused Sydney residents to panic, pictured a Woolworths store in Fairy Meadow NSW yesterday. Picture: Facebook
The spike in virus cases in Victoria appears to have caused Sydney residents to panic, pictured a Woolworths store in Fairy Meadow NSW yesterday. Picture: Facebook

Sydney shoppers yesterday began sharing snaps of empty toilet paper shelves, hot on the heels of similar sights appearing in Melbourne earlier this week.

"So, came back from Coles...and they're running out of toilet paper...again...in Sydney," one frustrated person wrote on Twitter yesterday.

"FYI Winston Hills Woolworths is nearly out of toilet paper. One of the workers told me that people are starting to panic buy again. The fear is kicking in again," another said.

"I popped into Coles earlier (in a suburb in Sydney) and I did notice a disproportionate number of customers buying packs of toilet paper..." someone else wrote.

"In my part of NSW both @woolworths & @Coles have run out of toilet paper this evening," another said.

Hours earlier, news.com.au reported the resurgence appeared to be spreading beyond Victoria's borders to New South Wales and potentially South Australia.

Woolworths told news.com.au last night there had been a spike in demand in NSW, but it was modest and not state wide.

"We've seen pockets of higher than usual demand for toilet roll across parts of NSW today, but not anywhere near the levels we saw in Victoria," a spokesman said.

"We'll keep a close eye on demand over the coming days. We continue to ask customers to buy only what they need, as there is plenty of stock to replenish our shelves."

A customer at a Woolworths in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast said she was surprised when she saw the once again diminished shelves.

"An elderly gentleman was just looking at the half empty shelf and said to me 'here we go again'.

"I think it's ridiculous what's happening. We've had no or very little community transmission and at the moment we have no reason to think we're going into lockdown.

"It's disappointing to think we could head down that panic-buying road again. We should have learned from the last time."

It might look like old photos from March, but this was taken in Berkeley Coles just 12 hours ago. Picture: Facebook
It might look like old photos from March, but this was taken in Berkeley Coles just 12 hours ago. Picture: Facebook

Another shopper reported "hoarding" was occurring in Coles Merrylands too, sharing a photo of the nearly empty toilet roll shelves.

 

While there were also reports from concerned shoppers in SA who said "even in Adelaide panic buying is happening".

 

Concerned shoppers are now calling on retail giants Coles and Woolworths to implement the buying restrictions in NSW before similar scenes witnessed back in March return to the state.

 

 

 

On Wednesday, Woolworths enforced purchase limits of two items per customer on toilet paper, hand sanitiser, paper towel, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, UHT milk, eggs and rice across its Victorian stores.

Coles quickly followed suit, reintroduced slightly stricter limits on multiple grocery items in the state allowing each shopper to buy one pack of toilet paper and paper towel.

Hand sanitiser, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, UHT milk, eggs and rice were all limited to two packs per customer.

Demand for the essential item spiked in Melbourne after the Victorian Government singled out the city as being at a heightened risk of coronavirus transmission. Yesterday, Victoria recorded 33 new cases, the biggest rise in cases since April 7.

Premier Daniel Andrews warned numbers will continue to increase in the coming days as authorities test "entire suburbs".

Both Coles and Woolworths have continued to urge shoppers to "only buy what they need" following the scenes of chaos across the country when Australia was caught in the grip of extreme grocery shortages after The World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au

Originally published as Supermarkets slap limits on everyone


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