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Shelves stripped bare at Coles, Woolworths as panic buying ramps up in Melbourne

As Melbourne grapples with an increasing number of coronavirus cases, shoppers have once again turned to panic buying with empty shelves spotted at supermarkets around the state.

Residents have gone against the Victorian Premier’s panic buying warnings, leaving shelves in Coles, Woolworths and Aldi nearly bare.

When Premier Daniel Andrews announced the restrictions imposed across the state, he said the frantic shopping was “not necessary”.

Coles (left) and Woolworths are dealing with a second. wave of panic buying as Victoria goes into lockdown. Source: Twitter - @lovinLCHF/@SumBumSZN
Coles (left) and Woolworths are dealing with a second. wave of panic buying as Victoria goes into lockdown. Source: Twitter - @lovinLCHF/@SumBumSZN

“You may not be able to buy every single item that you want in the quantities you normally would, but people will have everything they need,” he told reporters on Monday.

“That’s not necessary. That is simply not necessary. And that’s why I think you’ll find that a number of our supermarkets will add to the restrictions they’ve already put in place, and I fully support them doing that.”

However, the warning from the premier wasn’t enough to deter people from stocking up.

“People are just absolute idiots,” one Woolworths shopper said on Twitter, sharing images of empty meat shelves.

“Everyone’s been told 100 times if you just shop normally the food will remain on the shelves. Panic buying just adds to more stress you fools.”

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, supermarkets have urged people to only buy what they need, adding product limits when necessary to ensure customers had access to sought-after items.

On August 2, Woolworths reintroduced product limits in Victoria and once again asked customers to only purchase what they need.

On the same day, Coles announced further purchase limits on mince meat, chicken breasts and chicken thighs, in addition to limits on hand sanitiser and face masks.

On Monday, a shopper from Melbourne said all the meat was gone when they ducked to a Coles for a few items.

“Was at Coles for some necessities this morning,” they said on Twitter.

“All the meat is gone. Literally all of it. Panic buying at its finest.”

This was backed up by another person sharing a photo of the meat aisle at Coles in Caulfield, with majority of the meat already claimed by other shoppers.

“We ask that you only buy what you need to ensure everyone in our community can purchase the products they need,” Coles said on their website.

“Our team members are working as hard as possible to keep shelves stocked and based on current buying behaviour, we will review these limits daily.”

Aldi has also seen shortages of meat, as one person said there was “not one tray of meat available in the entire aisle” at their local Aldi and questioned whether meat was the new toilet paper.

Like earlier in the year shoppers are becoming increasingly frustrated with not being able to purchase items.

“Lost some faith in humanity last night. Not three hours after the latest announcements in Victoria (with the premier explicitly stating over four times not too) and people in our local area are PANIC BUYING AGAIN,” one person wrote on Facebook.

“No meat in our Woolies, Coles or ALDI. Everything else flying off the shelves too. How hard is it for people to just LISTEN. Feels like we're back in March again.”

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