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Supermarket giant ALDI has cut back its regular trading hours in a move it hopes will ease strain on staff and help make sought-after products last longer on shelves.
The retailer made the announcement on Tuesday, saying the changes would come into force beginning Wednesday in response to panic buying hysteria that hit Australia following the coronavirus outbreak.
ALDI supermarkets across the country will now open at 9.30am, an hour and a half later than its usual opening at 8am, and close at 7pm, an hour earlier than normal.
In a statement, the company said it was operating at “full steam” and was under “immense pressure” to keep up with surging customer demand for essential items.
It said the new hours would remain in place indefinitely “unless other state and local trading restrictions” applied.
The German retailer said it wanted the reviewed hours to allow employees more of a chance to “take a break and look after themselves and their families” amid the COVID-19 crisis.
This way, employees would also have more time to “restock shelves with products and be ready for customers” and employees in the Distribution Centres have more time to get the stock onto trucks and into stores.
More time would also be allowed for more thorough cleaning of the stores, the retailer’s statement said.
ALDI encouraged customers to consider only buying what they and their family required, saying “if we all do this, then we can make sure we have enough for everyone”.
“Australia’s primary producers and manufacturers are world leading and they’ve been a great partner as demand has skyrocketed in the last few weeks,” the statement said.
“We would ask everyone to be considerate and compassionate in the way they shop. This means civil behaviour, courtesy to those less able and respect for the employees of retail outlets.”
Both Coles and Woolworths have also taken measures in efforts to try and keep products on shelves for customers, including putting limits on the number of certain goods to be purchased at one time.
Coles has limited purchases of eggs, chilled pasta, frozen vegetables, mince, pasta, flour, dry rice, paper towels, paper tissues, hand sanitisers and frozen desserts to two units per person.
Woolworths has suspended Click and Collect ordering as well as home delivery services in Victoria temporarily, and is now opening an hour earlier for elderly and disabled customers to shop.
The retailer plans to close an hour early nationwide on Wednesday to replenish shelves of essential items, including ones it currently has limited the purchase of like hand sanitiser, tissues, rice, serviettes, wipes and toilet paper.
Additionally, the retailer will from Thursday be offering care packages to elderly and disabled customers which can be collected from customer service desks.
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