Woolworths has suspended its ‘click and collect’ services across Australia as the supermarket pandemonium amid the coronavirus crisis shows no signs of slowing down.
A spokesperson for the supermarket giant confirmed the move to Yahoo News Australia and will provide further comment imminently.
Woolworths has also been forced to temporarily halt home delivery in some parts of Victoria as it struggles to cope with the demand from the public with many customers now anticipating a 14-day self-isolation period or a restrictive lockdown which has been implemented across parts of Europe in recent days.
“Now - more than ever - we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable,” Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said.
While the initial furore was around toilet paper, other products such as bread, eggs, pasta, tinned foods, hand sanitisers and rice are now selling out daily in store.
Both Coles and Woolworths have been forced to enforce strict policies that limits the amount of prized items that can be purchased.
Woolworths will also close stores nationally at 8pm on Wednesday and reopen on Thursday at 7am in a bid to replenish shelves, a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“From Wednesday, we’ll be closing all of our stores at 8pm, with the exception of Brisbane Airport, Town Hall and QV Melbourne,” they said.
“These early closures will help ensure our team members have the time and space they need to properly restock shelves for the next day’s trade.”
The early closure is expected to continue indefinitely as the retailer battles to keep up with record sales that on the weekend exceeded Christmas and any other sales in the past 12 months.
“We want to slow the panic down,” Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said on Monday, news.com.au reported.
“We understand that our customers’ priority is to be prepared, but the vast majority of our food is grown or manufactured in Australia so there is not a concern with supply. What we have is a spike in demand.”
Our delivery service remains available in most parts of the country. It's been temporarily paused in parts of VIC. We continue to service a wide range of metropolitan areas in Melbourne from our West Footscray CFC. We'll turn deliveries back on from other VIC stores ASAP.— Woolworths (@woolworths) March 16, 2020
Ms Peters said there would also be more trucks on the road, some making deliveries straight to the supermarket from distribution centres, bypassing warehouses.
Tuesday will be the first day elderly and people with disabilities will be able to access essential household items without the chaos of the general public.
Shoppers will just need to present a valid concession card to staff when they arrive.
Additionally, the retailer will from Thursday be offering care packages to those customers which can be collected from customer service desks.
Ms Peters said they would contain some of the items popular among panic buyers like pasta and toilet paper.
She said there would be also more focus now on supplying smaller packs of toilet paper, to make it easier for more people to get their hands on a pack.
Many vulnerable citizens faced difficulties getting their hands on vital goods in the wake of the pandemic, which saw manic scenes inside supermarkets across the country as people rushed to bulk-buy.
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