Woolworths declares toilet roll limit amid coronavirus 'hysteria'

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Woolworths has introduced a purchase limit on toilet paper amid panic buying sparked by the spread of coronavirus in Australia.

Each customer will now only be allowed to purchase four packs of toilet rolls in store or online, a Woolworths spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia on Wednesday morning.

“Woolworths has today moved to apply a quantity limit on toilet paper packs to ensure more customers have access to the products,” the spokesperson said.

“It will help shore up stock levels as suppliers ramp up local production and deliveries in response to higher than usual demand.”

Woolworths toilet roll shelves have been left bare across the country. Pictured is a Woolworths store in the Sutherland Shire. Source: Kamilia Palu

The move comes as alarming images emerged from supermarkets showing customers clearing shelves of toilet roll across the nation.

Other products have also sold out in some stores, including canned food and long-life items such as rice and pasta.

“Our teams are continuing to work hard on restocking stores with long-life food and groceries from our distribution centres,” the spokesperson said.

 “We apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused by temporary stock shortages and thank them for their patience.”

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Coles over whether it will be following suit.

Limit ineffective, retail expert says

The move comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison consulted with the supermarket giants over product shortages.

He said Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures toilet paper, was opening up their manufacturing lines in South Australia to deal with the shortages. 

However retail expert at the Queensland University of Technology, Gary Mortimer, told Yahoo News a toilet paper limit would not solve the issue.

“The way they police the baby formula limit is a great example,” he said.

The coronavirus spread in Australia as of 9AM on Wednesday. Source: Yahoo News Australia

“If we restrict sales of toilet paper customers will simply make one purchase and then walk back into the story to make another purchase separately.”

He said the limit will be too difficult to police and advised shoppers to instead buy online.

So far there have been 42 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia, with human-to-human transmission confirmed in NSW on Monday.

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