Coles, Woolworths shoppers' shock as Easter eggs, hot cross buns hit shelves

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Social media sites have been inundated with posts from Coles and Woolworths customers this week, as hot cross buns and Easter eggs have made an appearance on supermarket shelves.

The social media storm follows customer outrage as hot cross buns were spotted in supermarket bakery departments on Boxing day – a whopping four months ahead of Easter.

Now, one week into the new year, customers have taken to Twitter and Facebook to share photographs of Easter egg displays in their local supermarkets.

One Twitter user called the appearance of the goods “annoying”, sharing a photograph of an end-of-aisle display of Cadbury mini eggs at their local Coles.

A second Twitter user claimed that Woolworths and Coles “take the joy out of holidays” by stocking seasonal items in advance.

A Facebook user shared a photograph of a Cadbury mini egg feature display at their local Woolworths, which commenters called a “weird stock allocation”, urging others to “ignore it until Easter”.

Another Facebook user slammed supermarkets for releasing some Easter items in Christmas week, stating “it’s never about religion, or even about what consumers want”.

The surprising reasons Easter products hit our shelves early

Gary Mortimer, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour at the Queensland University of Technology’s Business School, has shed some light on the logistical reasons customers are noticing Easter products in January.

Speaking to Yahoo News, Prof Mortimer said there are several reasons Easter eggs are released so quickly after Christmas.

“From a food quality position, chocolate is highly susceptible to perishability brought on by temperature changes or over handling,” he said.

“Hollow eggs and bunnies are easily broken, or melt quickly in warehouses and store rooms. So, getting them into an air conditioned store makes the most sense."

Left: hot cross bun display at Coles, Right: Easter egg display at Woolworths. Source: Facebook
Customers have been posting their Coles and Woolworths Easter finds to social media. Source: Facebook

Prof Mortimer also said that previous year's sales play a huge part in these releases.

“Operationally, supermarkets need to move this seasonal inventory into the market, get it on display and get ready for the sales lift, which traditionally happens very quickly as we draw closer to Easter," he said.

“Most stores would have available space on shelves also, recently vacated by Christmas merchandise.

“Of course, from a marketing perspective, having seasonal products on show almost four months before Easter, will naturally create a conversation across socials and mainstream media."

“Often the products offered are what supermarkets would call ‘Early Sellers’ – small packets of eggs, under $4. They tend to be an impulsive, unplanned purchase," he said.

“These Easter ‘Early Sellers’ also ‘signal’ to customers that their supermarket is ready to meet their Easter needs.”

‘More than 3 million sold’: Coles, Woolworths share reasons behind Easter release

Spokespersons from both Coles and Woolworths have confirmed with Yahoo News that customer demand is a significant factor in the appearance of Easter products on supermarket shelves.

“As we have done for many years in response to customer demand, Coles has begun stocking some popular Easter treats early including our much-loved hot cross buns and a small selection of Easter eggs,” a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News.

Woolworths truck with logo parked outside Coles sign. Source: Getty Images
Both Woolworths and Coles copped similar criticism on social media when Christmas items were released in October last year. Source: Getty Images

A Woolworths spokesperson has shared staggering sales statistics with Yahoo News, in response to questions regarding the appearance of Easter products.

“Hot Cross Buns always quickly hop off the shelves once on sale, in fact we traditionally sell more than 3 million Hot Cross Buns in the first week alone and nearly 17 million by the end of January,” they said.

“With Easter a few months away, we know many Woolworths customers love getting a taste of what’s in store for Easter months ahead, from Hot Cross Buns to Easter Eggs.

“Some of our customers like to purchase products early and have them stocked away to help spread out their Easter spend. Others like to taste test products to ensure they hit the spot for their Easter feast.”

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