Woolworths customers outraged by price hike after major change in store

The decision comes as more major supermarkets convert to Metro stores, leaving thousands of residents furious. a

Letter to customers explaining the changes (left) and the closed deli counter area (right).
Shoppers in Balmain have been left without a deli department at their local Woolworths as it changes over to the Metro layout. Source: Supplied

Residents in an Aussie suburb are "deeply disappointed" after their local Woolworths permanently closed the deli department, resulting in the rising cost of packaged deli alternatives in-store. The move is part of a larger plan to convert large stores to Woolworths Metros, with more than 1000 community members rejecting the decision by signing a Change.org petition online.

The store, on Darling Street, Balmain is one of several in Sydney's inner west which are being downgraded to Metro stores. One Balmain resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was outraged by the deli closure and noticed a hefty price difference in prepackaged deli meats as a result.

“Balmain Woolies in the last couple of months has changed over to a Metro layout, and in the last couple of weeks, the deli has completely closed, and they have fully moved over to pre-packaged deli meats,” she explained.

Some of the price differences she spotted included some leg ham and salami varieties being sold for $75 per kilo compared to the Deli cut equivalent at around $37 per kilo.

“I hate the idea that the labour component is not there. They’ve now removed jobs from the store, and human interaction is not there anymore, especially when people feel quite disenfranchised and lonely."

Shoppers buying groceries at Woolworths.
Residents of Sydney's inner west are rallying against a move to change many stores to Metros. Source: Getty

A notice posted outside the Woolworths store informs customers that the store is getting a “much-needed facelift”, with the deli section now completely empty. The local resident said the deli will be “sorely missed” by the entire community.

“Everyone I have spoken to says it just making a rotten store even worse. The only positive is the staff, but those numbers are dwindling," she said."Large retailers are overlooking these factors in the communities where they choose to make money."

Prices on deli meats circled.
One customer said that the prepackaged meat options are way more expensive than the fresh cut deli alternatives. Source: Supplied

Woolworths has closed the deli component of several stores over the years, with just 10 per cent of Metro stores operating with a deli — a move which the supermarket giant said was influenced by a limited take-up from customers.

Metro stores are usually smaller, offering fewer products and are focused on providing customers with convenient grab-and-go options including prepared foods.

Replacing the deli is a new section with various deli meats and cheeses pre-packaged into weighed portions. Community members are urging Woolworths to reconsider changing both the Balmain and nearby Alexandria stores to the metro layout.

"Downgrading to a metro is just an underhanded way of Woolies putting up their prices," one person wrote on the petition. "We need more variety in deli items and not another sushi bar," said a second.

A Woolworths spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that the Balmain store’s deli would cease operation after some adjustments were made in the store.

"The Balmain Metro is currently undergoing a renewal, with work now underway to bring a fresh new look to the store. While the deli is closing, the renewal process will make room for a wider range of grocery options tailored to the Balmain community,” the spokesperson said.

"More than 250 new products, such as an expanded range of dips, cheeses, smallgoods, biscuits, will be introduced to the store, meaning customers will still have access to a wide range of deli products.”

Woolworths deli section.
Woolworths states that the new look Balmain store will be 10 per cent bigger allowing room for a greater range of stock. Source: Supplied

The revamp will see 30 sliced and shaved products similar to those previously sold behind the counter be made available to customers at the same price per kilo.

The Balmain layout change means there are now four Metro-style stores in the surrounding areas, including Redfern, Erskineville, and Park Sydney. The closest larger Woolworths stores are a 20-minute drive away in Marrickville and Redfern.

"Customers will experience a disruption during their shop in store, but our dedicated store team will be there to support any customers who need assistance. We also want to reassure customers that our new neighbourhood food store will still have everything they need for a full shop."

Last year, Woolworths Metro stores saw a 21.6 per cent growth in sales across the 93 locations.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.