Coles boss's impassioned plea to customers over panic buying

Customers are being urged to remain calm, after a spike of coronavirus cases in Victoria prompted panic buying in the state.

Yesterday, both Coles and Woolworths announced buying limits would once again be imposed across a range of items at all Victorian stores, in the hope of deterring panic buying.

Speaking on the Today show on Thursday, Matt Swindells, Coles chief operating officer, has reiterated there is no need for panic-buying, saying for the last six weeks, customers got on just “fine”, only buying what they needed.

Coles has brought back buying limits, after a slight surge in demand in Victoria amid coronavirus outbreaks. Source: AAP

Mr Swindells said panic buying started “slowly” over the weekend, but speaking to Karl Stefanovic from a Melbourne store on Thursday he said it wasn’t like the first wave of panic buying observed earlier this year.

“Let's do this in a collaborative way. Only buy what you need, treat each other with respect and we will be back on track before we know it,” Mr Swindells said.

“Don't let frustration get the better of you.

“We haven’t got the big queues, there’s not a big rush to the toilet paper aisle, so we’re not anywhere near the panic levels we saw before.

“But we can see a lift in demand and we don’t want to get back to that position.”

The items which have purchasing limits now

Taking a proactive approach, Coles has once again imposed buying limits on items, after removing the limits in May.

Customers are allowed to pick up one pack of toilet paper and one pack of paper towel while shopping in Victoria.

Hand sanitiser, flour, eggs, sugar, mince, UHT milk, rice and pasta are now all restricted to two packs per customer, per shop.

“Limits also apply to Coles supermarkets in Lavington, Albury and Deniliquin in NSW, and Coles Express convenience stores in Albury, Albury Nth, Deniliquin Nth and Tocumwal,” the Coles COVID-19 Updates page states

“Limits apply nationally to our online shopping services.”

Coles' chief operating officer, Matt Swindells is calling for customers to remain calm, as the supermarket does have enough stock for everyone. Source: Nine News

The limits are to ensure all customer have access to the groceries they need, Mr Swindells told the Today show.

“There’s plenty of stock in our distribution centres, we recovered the supply chain well, the team did an amazing job putting our stores and supply chain back together, so there’s not need for any kind of elevated demand or panic buying,” he said.

Woolworths ‘well prepared’ for increased demand

Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said in a statement yesterday Woolworths was also well prepared, with warehouses stocked, poised to replenish the shelves.

“We have more than enough product for all of our customers if we all just buy what we need in our weekly shop,” Ms Peters said. 

“We’ll closely monitor demand across Victoria in the coming days and look to wind back the limits as soon as we can.”

Prior to the buying limits being reintroduced, this woman was seen loading her car with 12 packages of toilet paper in Springvale. Source: Facebook

Before Coles and Woolworths reintroduced product limits, customers were requesting them to do so, fearing demand would once again surge and customers would miss out on products.

Photos of customers panic buying have emerged on social media platforms.

One Reddit user shared a photo of a shopper stocking up on plenty of toilet paper and paper towels, presumably before the buying limits were introduced.

A customer was snapped stockpiling paper towels and toilet paper. Source: Reddit/u/Deebassser

“Can we just not do this again? Please?” the Reddit user wrote, and when asked if the images was months old, confirmed this was a new photo.

Panic buying essentials like toilet paper, paper towel, rice and hand sanitiser was an undeniable problem earlier this year, while supermarkets and their suppliers struggled to keep up with the unprecedented demand.

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