'Unfortunate' photos from Bunnings spark fears stores could close

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Photos have emerged of shoppers ignoring coronavirus social distancing guidelines after Bunnings introduced strict measures to keep consumers at a safe distance from each other.

There are fears that the nation’s major retailers including the hardware giant, Kmart, BigW, Officeworks and IKEA, could be told to shut up shop by the government if these types of scenes continued.

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Photos from inside a Sydney Bunnings on Sunday drew harsh criticism after they showed customers not keeping a safe 1.5 metres of space between them and shopping as they normally would.

Bunnings could shut it's doors if the government orders all retailers to close. Source: Google Maps

Bunnings have previously announced several measures to maintain social distancing in their stores and implemented changes to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

Bunnings’ new coronavirus restrictions

Bunnings Managing Director Michael Schneider told Yahoo News Australia the retailer would “continue to follow government advice” and would abide by any new restrictions as they arose.

These are some of the changes made in Bunnings stores across the country:

  • Increased cleaning in-store and for equipment such as counters, trolleys and baskets

  • Hand sanitiser for all team members

  • Social distancing including taping floors to mark 1.5m, moving stock to open up space, trestle tables in front of service areas to create more distance

  • Posters outside and around the store and announcements to remind customers

  • Encouraging customers to use Tap and Pay where possible

  • Water fountains and trade coffee stations closed

  • Cafés closed

  • Limiting customers in busier aisles

  • Limiting customer numbers in store during busy times  

  • Suspension of sausage sizzles, family events, in-store and children’s activities

Widespread business closures may still be on the cards

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has resisted ordering the closure of all retail businesses during the coronavirus crisis, but said she would consider the move if rules continued to be ignored.

Major retailers including Kmart, Target, BigW and David Jones may be next to close. Source: AAP

“We will need to go further if people don't respect what we've put in place now,” she said on Monday.

Other major stores likely to be affected if mandatory closures were ordered include Big W, Ikea, Target and Officeworks, which would join a long line of franchises already forced to close their doors.

Thousands more Australians would be left unemployed, putting additional strain on the already suffering economy, which the government on Monday announced it will try and remedy with a $130 billion package.

Crowded shopping aisles raise fears

The premier’s comments came as images emerged of customers inside a Bunnings store on Sudnay who appeared to be ignoring strict social distancing rules.

One woman shared photos to Facebook from inside the retailer on Sunday, pointing out shoppers’ apparent disregard for the guidelines.

“This was Bunnings today. People were coughing as they were walking around,” she wrote.

Others were unimpressed by the sight, one claiming it was such things that “grind my bloody gears”.

“Unfortunately, this will be the death of many more jobs and small businesses because these idiots won’t isolate. Which will put us in complete lockdown,” she wrote.

Shoppers shown inside a busy Bunnings store in Sydney, some not adhering to social distancing rules. Source: Facebook

However, not everyone echoed the sentiments with some claiming they had seen people observing social distancing on their Bunnings visits, as well as special measures being taken by staff.

One woman said that at her local store, people were only allowed to enter as others exited in a measure to keep numbers in the store down.

Someone else said only four people were allowed in an aisle at a given given time, and there were hand sanitisers available to all customers.

“I actually have the dead opposite view on Bunnings at the moment. I think they are doing an exceptional job - my local anyway,” another woman wrote.

Multiple store shut downs announced

Stores that have already shut down indefinitely include Premier Investments Limited owned outlets Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Jacqui E and Dotti.

From Friday, Accent group owned shoe stores Platypus, Hype and Athlete’s Foot will close for at least four weeks.

David Jones are among a few outlets keeping its doors open, but have asked customers to double check trading hours before visiting.

Myer has closed all its stores and stood down staff for at least four weeks, but has remained trading online.

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