Supermarket ending elderly hour

From this Friday, Coles will end its dedicated hour of shopping for the elderly and vulnerable.

For the past seven weeks, the first hour of trade from 7am to 8am on weekdays has seen a dedicated community hour for elderly and vulnerable customers as well as emergency services and healthcare workers.

However, the supermarket giant believes now that the stock is returning to shelves, there is no longer any need to persist with the program.

Instead, Coles will be expanding trading hours, including opening almost 200 stores from 6am, where state laws allow.

Coles says that the changes are being made to help ease the pressure faced by all Australians, including parents and carers who are busy home schooling their children, in addition to many customers working from home.

Chief operations officer for Coles Matt Swindells said that community hour had been very popular with eligible shoppers, but now that demand for groceries and product availability were returning to more normal levels it was time to welcome all customers back whenever stores were open.

“Our number one priority remains the health and safety of customers and our team members,” Mr Swindells said. “As the government begins to look at easing restrictions, customers should remember that appropriate safety practices will still apply and ask all customers to support with the same amazing collaboration we’ve seen in the past few weeks.

“The reason we started Coles community hour was because excess demand led to limited availability, which meant we had lots of people eager to get into stores early in the morning.

“Having a dedicated shopping hour for some of the most vulnerable members of the community, as well as those working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, was really beneficial.

“With supply almost back to normal for essential groceries, Coles is reopening this hour to all customers again, as well as opening earlier where we can, to make shopping more convenient for everyone in the community.”

Coles has also reopened online orders, which had been dedicated entirely to elderly and vulnerable customers during the peak of demand, to all shoppers – providing another shopping option to customers who may otherwise have needed to visit a store.

Will you miss the community hour shopping? Do you think it should have stayed in place for longer?

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