'Insanity': Coles and Woolworths hit by panic buying nationwide amid virus surge

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

While the recent surge in coronavirus cases has been largely restricted to Melbourne, it hasn’t stopped shoppers thousands of kilometres away fearing a second wave.

While a reemergence of panic buying was triggered in Victoria’s capital to the point Coles and Woolworths were forced to reintroduce shopping limits this week, shoppers in Sydney and even Brisbane have also taken to supermarkets to clear shelves of essentials.

Images began to emerge on social media on Thursday of toilet paper aisles low on stock or in some cases completely stripped bare.

A Woolworths store in Wollongong's Corrimal on Thursday. Source: Facebook/ Morgan Savannah

“Good god morons of the world - did you not learn last time?!” one person declared, while sharing a photo of from Coles’ Merrylands store in Sydney’s west.

And it wasn’t just Sydney where toilet paper was flying off the shelves, with stores in Brisbane, Wollongong, the Central Coast, Adelaide and Mildura appearing to have fallen victim to hoarders.

“It saddens me to even have to say this, but can people please stop panic buying,” Independent MP Ali Cupper said with a photo from her local Coles.

“It is unbelievable that supermarket shelves in Mildura have already been stripped of toilet paper.”

One shopper in Margate in the north of Brisbane’s metropolitan area shared a photo of an empty shelf and asked: “Do we really need to go through this insanity again?”

Coles and Woolworths yet to introduce limits nationwide

Coles and Woolworths have not yet announced recent limits reimposed in Melbourne will be rolled out nationwide.

Yahoo News Australia has contacted the two supermarkets for comment on whether they are aware of a spike in sales of essential items and if they are considering purchase restrictions across the country.

A spokesperson at Woolworths revealed while a handful of stores experienced an increase in buying in NSW, there are no stock issues across the nation.

They said the photos which seem to show a lack of stock could have been taken during replenishing periods.

“We saw pockets of higher than usual demand for toilet roll across parts of New South Wales yesterday, but not anywhere near the levels we saw in Victoria,” the spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

“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.”

The apparent panic buying comes as it was announced footy fans from Victoria will be turned away from NSW venues as the state looks to shield itself from the alarming increase in coronavirus cases currently being experienced by its southern neighbour.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been vocal on her stance on the matter, calling for those from hotspots in Melbourne not to travel to Sydney and NSW, while urging her own residents to consider the need to travel to Victoria.

On Thursday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a testing blitz across 10 Melbourne suburbs to try and curtail the spread of the virus.

Health official in the state have warned they will not hesitate in implementing further restrictions if the virus continues to spread.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.