Coles announces dedicated shopping hour for another group

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Coles has announced it will be extending its special shopping hours to include dedicated time on two days of the week specifically for healthcare workers on the front line of fighting the coronavirus.

The supermarket announced on Tuesday that beginning on Thursday, emergency services and healthcare workers will have access to groceries between 7am to 8am.

The move followed the first hour of trade being dedicated to elderly and disabled customers, who will continue to have priority shopping on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital and ambulance staff, police, firefighters and emergency service workers who hold an AHPRA card, have a workplace ID or are wearing their work uniform will qualify for early-access.

The move was designed to give access to Australians in critical roles better access to essential groceries, Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said.

On Thursday healthcare and emergency workers will have the store to themselves for the first time. Source: Google Maps/Jose Saa

“We know these workers are incredibly busy and hope that providing them with a dedicated hour at the beginning of the day to shop will make their lives a little easier and support the vital work they are doing every day,” Mr Cain said.

“We are also incredibly proud of our team members in-store who are working hard to get stock on to shelves as fast as possible, create a safe place to shop, and provide our customers with great service. We ask that our customers continue to show them kindness and patience.”

The retail giant began its “Community Hour” on Wednesday last week, the day after its competitor Woolworths spearheaded the same initiative.

Sadly, both events were plagued by negative reviews, with giant queues of the community’s most vulnerable captured across the country and minimal social distancing being practiced.

Healthcare and emergency workers won't have to battle crowds for essential groceries on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Source: Getty Images

Both retailers have since assured the public they are doing all they can to keep as much product on the shelves as possible, as they continue grappling with historic levels of demand.

“The team is working with suppliers and partners to get more stock to stores as fast as possible,” Coles said.

Extra measures to keep up stock levels

The supermarket has also brought forward its closing time to 8pm to allow staff additional time and space to “extensively clean stores and replenish the shelves for customers the next day”.

A dedicated “priority service” for vulnerable customers buying their groceries online is also in the process of being rolled out, while Woolworths is also limiting delivery services to those who need it most.

Much of the country’s supermarkets have been left bare as customers continue to stockpile on essential items like toilet paper, hand sanitiser, pasta, rice, water, tissues and paper towel.

Retailers were forced to implement strict product limits to prevent people from panic buying.

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