New product limits announced as fears of second wave prompt panic buying

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Shoppers fearful of a second wave of COVID-19 have already started panic buying essential items in Victorian supermarkets. In response, supermarkets have immediately reinstated product limits on popular items that were stripped from shelves in the first wave.

Supermarkets in coronavirus ‘hotspots’ are already witnessing the onset of a second round of panic buying of items such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) identified outbreaks in the local government areas of Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin.

“The AHPPC strongly discourages travel to and from those areas until control of community transmission has been confirmed,” said the committee.

The announcement has caused concern in those areas, with some people saying on social media that they fear another extended lockdown period and the resulting panic buying, according to a Yahoo News report.

“We are worried we may have to go into another eight-week lockdown so stupid people are panic buying,” one woman commented on Facebook.

Appalled at the “selfish” actions of panic buying shoppers, social media users were quick to slam these shoppers, blaming the first wave of product shortages and the difficulties created for less able people on these “stupid shoppers”.

“Just great! The greedy b******s are up for round two it seems and leaves none for others. Why can’t people just buy their weekly worth as normal,” one Facebook user wrote.

“No one has learned anything from the first lockdown. Went stupid when restrictions were lifted and spread the virus around, now panicking,” wrote another.

“The stupidity of some people is unbelievable,” wrote a third.

And it’s not just supermarkets in the red zone that are seeing irresponsible shoppers starting to bulk buy. A woman was filmed packing 12 bulk packs of toilet paper into her car in Springvale – which is not even listed as a coronavirus hotspot.

“I deadset thought corona hoarding was over. We’ve just seen this lady come and put five bags of toilet paper in her car. She’s gone back into the supermarket and come back with another seven,” said a woman who filmed another woman in Springvale packing 12 bulk packs of toilet paper into her car.

“Deadset, what is this woman doing? Pretty sure coronavirus doesn’t give you the s***s.”

In response to the onset of panic buying, major supermarkets Woolworths and Coles have both announced product limits and measures to protect the health and safety of customers.

On the back of a “handful” of stores that had experienced higher demand on Tuesday, Woolworths on Wednesday announced the first round of product limits.

“We’ve seen elevated demand for toilet rolls in a handful of Melbourne stores,” said a Woolworths spokesperson.

“We have plenty of stock to draw on in our distribution centres and will replenish shelves in those stores quickly.

“We’ll continue to keep a close eye on stock levels in the coming days and ask customers to buy only what they need.”

Restrictions now apply to toilet paper, hand sanitiser, paper towel, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, UHT milk, eggs and rice and the company will now also reinforce social distancing rules in stores.

“While we have healthy stock levels to draw on, we’re taking this precautionary step to help prevent excessive buying and support appropriate social distancing in our Victorian stores,” said Woolworths Supermarket managing director Claire Peters.

“We have more than enough product for all of our customers if we all just buy what we need in our weekly shop.

“We’ll closely monitor demand across Victoria in the coming days and look to wind back the limits as soon as we can.”

Coles has also implemented temporary measures to improve the availability of key food and grocery items in Victorian supermarkets and to help customers shop safely.

Purchase limits are now in place at all Coles supermarkets in Victoria, as well as in Lavington, Albury and Deniliquin in NSW, as they are replenished from Victorian distribution centres. Limits on toilet paper (one packet), pasta (two packets), hand sanitiser (two units), mince (two units), paper towel (one packets), UHT milk (two units), flour (two packets), eggs (two cartons) and rice (two packets), now apply in stores and online.

Coles staff will also greet customers at the entrance of all Victorian supermarkets to remind them to use the sanitising station, which includes hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes for trolleys.

“Following discussion with the federal and Victorian governments as well as other retailers, Coles is implementing temporary purchase limits for our Victorian supermarkets to help us manage demand for key staple items,” said Coles Group chief Steven Cain.

“We ask that customers continue to shop normally so that everyone can have access to the food and groceries they need.”

Mr Cain assured Coles customers that their health was a priority and that team members were working hard to provide a safe shopping environment and keeping shelves stocked for customers.

“We ask that customers continue to treat our team with respect and understanding and follow any requests or signs in store to keep a safe distance,” he said.

So far, the re-introduction of product limits will only apply to Victorian and a few NSW supermarkets, as that was the only state or territory “where the early signs of a demand surge is occurring”, said Mr Cain.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton told shoppers that there was no need for panic buying.

“People are not going to run out of stuff, there are not going to be hundreds of hundreds of people in isolation because we’ve got hundreds of cases,” he said.

“We’ve got a small and steady but very concerning number of cases over the last week, so people can go about their shopping as per normal.”

YourLifeChoices has contacted Coles to find out if there will be any further measures aimed at ensuring shopping safety and availability of products for older Australians. No further announcements have been made yet.

Are you concerned about a second wave? Or will you ‘keep calm and carry on’?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 22
  1. 0

    During WWI and WWII the federal government introduced rationing. Does Scott have the courage or brains to do this? Is there a reason Australia elected Labor governments during those wars?

    • 0

      There is no shortage so there is no reason to ration. There is no need to panic buy because the supply will always be there. It is only reduced if people purchase more than they usually do.

    • 0

      But they DO buy more than they need, so for the rest of us there IS a shortage. Does Scott have the courage or brains to introduce rationing?

  2. 0

    o just being prepared for an emergency. Our family didn’t need to “panic buy” because we always have a couple of months of food put away in the case of an emergency. As I see it anyone who doesn’t prepare for a breakdown in supply is not facing reality. Be part of the solution not part of the problem…prepare for an emergency before it happens, not when it is happening! Is that selfish?…I don’t think so!

    • 0

      Twelve bulk packs of toilet paper (288) rolls is not preparing for an emergency, more like planning to capitalise on a possible shortage (profiteering) that happened a lot in the fist round of “panic” buying.

    • 0

      Panic buying or being prepared for an emergency? What is the difference. I simply call it hoarding for no reason whatsoever. If people purchase their weekly requirements as usual, there will be no shortages!

    • 0

      There is a huge difference between trying to be prepared for an emergency and panic buying. Being prepared for emergency is buying a little extra (especially when items are on special)…and putting it away ‘just in case’. Many of us put put a little money away so when an unexpected expense happens, there is something there to cover it. No different to stocking up with extra food before an emergence arises, not waiting until until the last minute. It’s not “hoarding” it’s being sensibly prepared. People through out history have understood that! btw…Placido1….having 288 rolls of toilet paper is ridiculous. Also Marten…..regarding “hoarding”….you won’t stop the survival instinct kicking in when humans are faced with a crisis. If you don’t don’t think it nece
      ssary to be prepared for the next emergency you will be one of the many that miss out.

  3. 0

    I remember the days in the latter part of WW2 and the early post war years when my parents and a circle of friends used to meet at different homes on weekends and exchange ration tokens they used to cut from a small yellow card. They were used for such things as meat, flour, and butter. the men would also take surplus home grown fruit and vegies to either swap or give away, outgrown children’s clothing was also exchanged or gifted. they were great gatherings. The women and men talked, the kids played and we all went home knowing we would eat for the next week.

  4. 0

    There is no need to have rations, we are not at war. If the supermarkets put restrictions on the items known to sell out fast that should be sufficient .

    • 0

      I think you should ask some of the manufacturers about that. Kimberly Clark and other manufacturers put on extra shifts and employed more staff to increase supplies.
      A manufacturer that makes masks did the same thing. Hospitals, other medical places used a lot more masks than normal. People that wouldn’t normally use them had to;

  5. 0

    They will just sneak across the border just like they do with the container deposit scheme ,they have no shame.

  6. 0

    Stupid is as stupid does!

    During the first wave, people went far beyond ‘preparation’ well into panic buying territory. And after about 6 weeks, it was all over, stocks returned to normal and people were then left with piles of ‘stuff’ they didn’t need. Now there is potential for a second wave in selected identified hotspots and despite the recent experience, selfish people are at it agin.

    Hoarding of toilet paper is absolutely not necessary – even in the event the affected areas are sent into total lockdown (which they won’t). We make it in Australia, there are warehouses full of the stuff! The supermarkets did not close last time and they won’t this time so need to hoard dry goods either.

    • 0

      Agreed. The supermarkets will still be open no matter what, even during a Stage 4 lock down. A friend in New Zealand who experienced the Stage 4 lock down told me that despite the long queue to get into a supermarket, all products were available and she was in and out quickly. Hoarding leads to products not being available and so unnecessary! Cheers!

    • 0

      It was much longer than 6 weeks before it settled down in some regional areas

  7. 0

    I wish I could invent a drug or vaccine for stupidity and selfishness, or even make it in the form of an inhaler, and spray it over supermarket hoarders. I just don’t understand….

  8. 0

    All this talk and media attention will cause a panic buy, toilet paper has been on special lately guess that will stop again.

  9. 0

    Shortages created by crazy-selfish panic buyers, will just cause more price rises and no specials offered by supermarkets. Everyone suffers except big businesses ( Coles, Woolworths and Aldi)

  10. 0

    Some of the items on the latest list are those that were rationed back then. They had ration tickets. Material , including wool for knitting or crocheting was also rationed. Some things were still rationed in 1948.Delis were allowed more food (bread, butter, sugar) and fuel if they used them for their businesses) My Mum and Dad got married in 1949. One of Mum’s cousins loaned her wedding dress and one of her sisters loaned her veil. Another thing that was rationed was cigarettes. My Mum managed a Deli for a relative.

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