Coles and Woolworths ditch new checkout rule after customer anger

There’s good news for shoppers angry that Coles and Woolworths won’t pack their bags amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The supermarket giants have both announced staff will begin packing bags again for shoppers from Monday, while replacing old and dirty bags free of charge.

Coles CEO Steven Cain said on Friday “we are returning to a sense of normality”.

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“With all product buying restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 lifted at Coles this week, our focus is still very much on providing a safe environment for team members and customers,” Mr Cain said.

“We are grateful for the way customers have adapted to some big changes in our stores including packing their own bags. We hope that our team offering to pack them again makes life a little easier.”

A shopper is seen carrying a reusable plastic bag at a Coles Sydney CBD store, Sydney.
Coles will once again pack bags for shoppers. Source: AAP (file pic)

In a similar message, a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the supermarket is moving to a “new normal”.

“As we move into the new normal and embrace rigorous hygiene and social distancing, we are returning to packing customers’ bags at the checkout from Monday (June 1), so long as they’re clean for our team to handle.”

Many shoppers voiced their anger that staff wouldn’t pack their bags as part of measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Some even suggested if staff were worried about infection - they should just return to giving out fresh, clean bags for free.

Free bags to ensure hygiene

Coles said in a statement on Friday, it’s also introducing a “Better Bag” scheme which means anyone presenting a beaten up, well-loved shopping bag will be presented with a replacement.

This will occur for two weeks and the supermarket added the Better Bag is made out of 80 per cent recycled material.

A Woolworths shopper fills her trolley with bags. Source: Woolworths
A Woolworths shopper fills her trolley with bags. Source: Woolworths

Mr Cain added he hopes the Better Bag will create “peace of mind”.

Woolworths confirmed a similar scheme.

“For peace of mind, Woolworths will offer a like for like replacement if a reusable bag isn’t hygienic for our team to handle,” the spokesperson said.

The supermarkets will continue to encourage social distancing and hand sanitiser will be made available for shoppers.

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