Australian supermarkets are being completely stripped of essential items from people seemingly stockpiling products as fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak skyrocket.
Images shared to social media on the weekend showed shelves from popular retailers Woolworths, Coles and Aldi having been cleared of certain items, as the first Australian died of the deadly disease on Sunday.
Essential items like toilet paper, water and hand sanitiser, have been walking off the shelves as have pantry staples including bread, flour, rice, canned food and pasta.
Photos taken from inside supermarkets across the country’s capital cities flooded Twitter on Sunday, and saw many people express concern over their ability to get their hands on essential items.
A Coles customer from an inner suburb of Melbourne said on Monday they noticed distinct shortages of products in the household items aisle.
“Any reason why Coles Elsternwick is near empty of toilet paper and hand soap (amongst other things) right now? When will they get more stock of these items?,” they wrote in a tweet.
Another Coles shopper said there were many items out of stock at their usual supermarket.
#TopRyde #Sydney #Australia #Woolworths, #ToiletPapers, #HandWash, #VitaminC almost depleted due to Coronavirus Panic. #Wuhan #China #Covid19 #Coronavirus #Pandemic #WHO @smh @7NewsAustralia @9NewsAUS @10NewsFirst pic.twitter.com/dzbBaqARSf
— David Li (@Dave2307) March 2, 2020
“My local Coles only had few packets of toilet paper. Pasta and flour are gone. Very cheap salt I use to clean with is gone, I grabbed the last packet. Very cheap vinegar I clean with is running low. by end of the week it will be ghost town until people stop mass buying,” they said.
A Coles shopper in Perth shared photos to Facebook of shelves that would normally contain antibacterial products completely empty, writing on Friday: “Just now down at the shops. Don’t panic they said”.
Toilet paper, hand wash and vitamin C tablets were almost totally depleted at a Woolworths in Top Ryde, in the Northern Suburbs of Sydney, one customer reported.
They shared four images of shelves bare of each of those products, with only a small number of select items still available for purchase.
My local Coles only had few packets of toilet paper. Pasta and flour are gone. Very cheap salt I use to clean with is gone, I grabbed the last packet. Very cheap vinegar I clean with is running low. by end of the week it will be ghost town until people stop mass buying
— Anna (@Anna_63) March 2, 2020
Another customer joked that Australia was “literally shi***** itself over coronavirus” in an upload of a photo showing an empty toilet paper shelf inside a Coles store.
Someone else shared several photos from inside an Aldi and Woolworths store in Sydney of empty tissue and toilet paper shelves.
There was a similar scene inside a Woolworths in Northbridge, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, where a customer uploaded an aisle with no available toilet paper at all.
A Woolworths customer in Doncaster, north of Melbourne, saw the lighter side of the situation, using a series of hashtags to illustrate the humour in people panic-buying.
Toilet paper and tissue shelves at Aldi and Woolworths, Sydney, Australia today 3 Mar 2020. #coronavirus #coronavirusaustralia #coronavirusupdate #CoronavirusUpdate #Covid_19 #COVID19 #CoronavirusOutbreak #panicbuying #toiletpapershortest #tissueshortest pic.twitter.com/54HbrqrvwD
— Ammy Kwong (@ammykwong) March 2, 2020
Woolworths, Northbridge ...now pic.twitter.com/qJZYJg6vXZ
— Gary Burton CFTe (@CfteGary) March 2, 2020
A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia there had been a recent notable rise in demand for pantry staples.
“We’ve seen an increase in demand for long-life pantry items and household staples in recent days, which has led to partial stock shortages across some of our stores,” the spokesperson said.
“Our teams have been working hard to replenish these products as quickly as possible. We have good stock levels to draw on in our distribution centres and will continue working closely with our suppliers to maintain supply.
“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience and thank them for their patience.”
— Matt (@MattyWiLLsOn) March 2, 2020
A spokesperson from Coles told Yahoo News Australia the retailer had experienced shortages of particular products.
“There is no immediate risk to essential groceries, and we are working with our suppliers to maintain availability for customers,” they said.
“However, we are currently experiencing a shortage of some antibacterial hand washes and hand sanitiser products due to high customer demand.”
Images have also surfaced with similar scenes at supermarkets across the world as fear surrounding the deadly outbreak escalates.
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