Coles and Woolworths reintroduce buying limits as panic buying ramps up

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Buying limits have been reintroduced at Coles and Woolworths as panic buying motivated by a huge spike in coronavirus cases returns.

Shelves were wiped clean in supermarkets across Victoria on Tuesday as the state recorded a whopping 191 cases of COVID-19 and subsequently closed its borders and locked down the city of Melbourne.

Just days after Coles removed all buying limits, it reinstated restrictions on essential items on Wednesday after Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lockdown of metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

Photo shows front of a Coles and Woolworths store as supermarkets reintroduce buying limits.
Coles and Woolworths have reintroduced buying limits on a host of items to curb panic buying. Source: Google Maps/Danny Kwon & Malik Tariqiqbal

Coles shoppers subject to the stage three stay-at-home order in Melbourne will have two-pack limits on a host of staples including pasta, flour, rice, sugar, fresh milk, long-life milk and chilled pasta.

Frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, tissues, hand sanitiser, chicken breast, chicken thigh, eggs, mince meat, frozen chips, frozen desserts, paper towels and liquid soaps will also be affected.

Customers at Coles stores affected by the stage three lockdown, including online shoppers, will once again be allowed to purchase just one pack of toilet paper at a time.

Coles says need to reinstate purchase limits is ‘disappointing’

Coles chief executive Steven Cain said it was disappointing to reinstate purchase limits but it was crucial to manage increased demand for staple items.

“Our thoughts are with the many Victorians who will now be required to isolate at home, and we will continue to work with the state government to provide whatever assistance they need,” Mr Cain said in a statement.

“To help provide a safer shopping experience in our stores, we would ask that customers continue to treat our team members with respect, observe social distancing in stores, make use of the sanitising stations at the entrance, and plan their visit so they can be ‘speedy shoppers’.

Photo shows empty shelves in a Woolworths store due to coronavirus panic buying.
Shelves were once again cleared as cases soared in Victoria. Source: AAP

“For customers who would prefer to shop online, we have contactless Click&Collect, while customers opting for home delivery will have their groceries delivered to their front door.”

Woolworths brings back purchasing limits on household items

Woolworths reinstated a two-item purchase limit on a range of products across all Victorian stores and online, including on frozen vegetables, frozen potatoes, frozen fruit and frozen poultry.

Limits also apply to pre-packed sausages, burger patties, rissoles and meatballs, pre-packed carrots, pre-packed potatoes, fresh milk, sliced bread from the bakery, frozen pizza and frozen party snacks.

Frozen meals, frozen seafood, chilled juice, pre-packed bacon, tissues, dry pasta, eggs, flour, hand sanitiser, long life milk, mince, paper towels, rice and sugar will also be affected.

Woolworths customers across the country, including Victoria, will be allowed to purchase two packs of toilet paper at a time.

Under the newest round of restrictions applicable to 31 local government areas, residents are permitted to leave their home for four reasons only - to buy food, to receive or provide care, for daily exercise and for work or study.

The stay-at-home orders, enforced from midnight Tuesday, replaced restrictions on residents living in 12 postcodes identified as coronavirus hotspots.

At least 3000 people living in nine public housing towers in Melbourne are also required to stay inside their home, however are not allowed to leave for any reason for at least five days, possibly longer.

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