Supermarket to cut opening hours to prioritise serving elderly customers

‘We accept that this is no longer business as usual,’ says Woolworths.

empty shelves at a woolworths supermarket

Woolworths has announced it will reduce its opening hours in 41 supermarkets across Australia.

But before you fire up, the supermarket giant claims it’s cutting hours so it can prioritise delivering groceries to vulnerable customers – including the elderly – across Australia.

From Thursday, the affected supermarkets will now open from to 11am-6pm.

“These are undoubtedly testing times for all Australians, given the impact COVID-19 is having on the way we live. And if you believe the experts, we still have a long way to go,” said Woolworths in a statement.

“We accept that this is no longer business as usual. In the last four weeks, we have seen a huge surge in demand, which inevitably means you’re seeing material product shortages on our shelves.

“Like all Australian grocery retailers, our aim is to provide the food and essential products all our customers need. This absolutely remains our focus, but we need your help.

“In the spirit of fairness for all Australians, especially those who need our help the most, we have made some changes.”

Some of these changes include setting up some supermarkets as ‘priority delivery hubs’. Staff at these locations will use the hours they are closed to pick and pack online orders to meet the increased demand from the elderly and those hit by the coronavirus.

“We are focused on supporting the most vulnerable in the community during these challenging times,” said Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci.

“To help support getting basic food and essentials to those that need it most, our teams have been doing everything they can to scale up online and home deliveries to the elderly, people with disabilities or those in mandatory self-isolation.”

Woolworths already offers dedicated shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable. Coles followed Woolworths’ lead, but has also implemented exclusive shopping hours for health and emergency care workers on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Smaller supermarket chains, such as IGA and Aldi, have introduced similar measures.

Both Coles and Woolworths have already had to cut their opening hours to allow staff time  to restock shelves amid panic buying.

Woolworths checkout staff are now behind clear plastic screens, as part of a raft of in-store health and safety measures for its staff and customers.

Other in-store health measures being introduced include store greeters to wipe down baskets, trolleys and to advise customers on social distancing practices; fewer registers to enable better social distancing; plastic screens at some registers, signs to provide information about social distancing, amended hours and additional cleaning and hygiene processes.

Are you happy with how supermarkets are handling the pandemic?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    26th Mar 2020
    What a godsend. I just ordered. I won't get the order until next Wednesday but it's all good.
    26th Mar 2020
    How about Coles? Unpacking economy toilet roll packs of 24 rolls, cost about $10, repacking into plastic bags of 6 rolls each and charging $4.70 per bag. Overcharging?? Yes a ripoff, but no other choice yesterday. Not happening at your Coles, sure is at Taree.
    26th Mar 2020
    I'm sure you'd pay more than or about the same price if you'd been able to buy a six pack. My regular price for a four pack of long rolls is $5.00. I'd be happy if they do it here, there might be something left by the time I get there. I'll have to be REALLY desperate before I could manage to be at the shops by 7.00am - I could pretend I was a Walmart shopper and go in my PJs, wouldn't be the first time I've seen it around here.
    26th Mar 2020
    So more people going to the supermarket at one time, more chance of spreading the virus.
    I thought they were going to put more staff on.
    27th Mar 2020
    How does that figure? If Woolworths is packing and delivering to the older, disadvantaged etc. Those people won't be in the shops!
    Besides the greedy selfish members of our society have stocked up as well as they can precisely so that they dont have to go.
    27th Mar 2020
    Wasn't commenting on the delivering, they stopped everyone else from buying online to do this so still more people shopping at one time, they are still stocking up because they fear it will be months, the media is to blame, we could be out of this by May if everyone just stayed home.
    26th Mar 2020
    I was a long-standing customer of Coles, both in-store and online. Not impressed when they stopped online deliveries. I am now ordering online from Woolies, got my delivery today. Thank you, Woolies. I can still go to Coles instore, but it’s slim pickings, and I can’t carry much. I would go to Aldi, however I can’t stand the queues - I’m alway standing there, shrieking internally, “I’m going to miss my bus!”
    26th Mar 2020
    Okay, fellow central planners, - firstly the schools, - looks like most parents are taking them out for this final week so the message will get through, - Schools closed, - except for skeleton facilities for health workers.

    Next is Supermarkets, the el-supremo Coronavirus mixing bowl after schools, so what do we say?

    Let’s do it with Technology, every supermarket is to set up a number of outside (sheltered) digital screens connected to another one in front of each cash register.

    People come to this external screen, (regulated by fences, gates, etc.) press Go and there is their local person, - they speak their order, - complete with their image, and voice,- in real time, - how’s your granny, - or whatever the personal relationship enjoys, then the sales person is typing it in so the list and bill appears before the customer, - they pay wave on the terminal next the screen, and are issued a paper receipt,

    The which they take further around the building to the delivery schutes, - they enter or insert their rcpts, still with verbal contact there, so problems can be easily fixed and the human element is preserved, and their goods come out of the shute, and they go home, - happy, - got their goods, and personally acknowledged.

    Personal contact preserved, no physical infection can possibly pass, - Supermarkets remain free of virus, their customers remain free also, the check-out chicks, or roosters, still have work, as do the pickers and packers and all that.
    And the first Supermarkets that do it will get all the trade so the others will either follow suit or sell their stock at cost to the operating supermarkets.- either way, that major infection vector is closed.

    Other businesses may follow suit. - so, each of my fellow Central Planners, go forth and talk to your local supermarket, - and politician, - and anyone else you can think of, - eg old folks who have no cards or ability to use them, as you will find all supermarkets are also doing home deliveries, - but only to the front step of course.

    Anybody who knows a company with the tech products that will do the job of the screen I describe? - I mean it is the same as a laptop screen, ie Audio and visual, but simpler, - please share so the supermarket guys don’t just throw their hand up in despair saying ‘we can’t do that’, - because we know they CAN, - and must, whatever it takes.
    26th Mar 2020
    I realise you have placed a lot of thought into your proposal which has merit. However, by the time it is all installed across the country, we may well be on our way to recovery from this pandemic. Who knows. To my mind, online ordering, a system already in place and well and truly tested could be used. Just my thoughts.
    26th Mar 2020
    this will not be the last pandemic threat ... those bats are just flying viral incubators and source of potential zoonotic plagues
    26th Mar 2020
    Woolies approved my online application for "Seniors Priority" last Sunday! I have been doing online shopping for 9 years! Sent me a lovely email telling me to "Go online and check my "New Delivery.Windows" - nothing there yet haha - still 6-8 days delivery here in Melb.
    Hope they get it up and running soon?
    26th Mar 2020
    did not have that problem in Vic. Fewer and longer windows to choose but still a great service.
    26th Mar 2020
    Thank you Waggers, - yes online ordering has a place, but many have problems with it, - including the stores, - and it doesn't provide the personal contact that going to the supermarket and talking to the folk there does.

    Perhaps the Only contact most of us may have.

    I hope you are correct that a cuppla weeks and it will be fine is correct, - personally doesn't seem likely, - Hard lockdown is 2/3 months, - recall that our govt is using Quantitative Easing, - what they called 'Helicopter Money', with fine disdain, so they are dragging their feet, doing something they don't want to do, like a small kid.
    Worth noting, - much of their Stimulus money has not yet been paid, so is not working, so the problem is worsening, not getting better, and a lot of us old folk will die as a result, and a lot of younger families will be in dire straits.
    Such a classic example of Talk is cheap, such an inept and pathetic govt. best to see what we can each do personally, but let's not forget who let us down.
    26th Mar 2020
    News today they are getting a drug ready for those on the front line, and testing kits will be available (missed the release date maybe next week), this test is a pin prick and results in 15 minutes. This may bring the statistics down so not as bad as it seems, stop listening to the doom and gloom reporters. Also lock down and restrictions are based on transmission of virus between people so if they remain low or stop to exist then we could be out of this madness sooner, I am living in hope, and I hope others will too, because fear is not healthy.
    26th Mar 2020
    At least you got your order through. We got accepted for Priority as elderly and vulnerable - did my order, then when got to check out was told delivery was closed for that day - the thing is I did not want today or tomorrow, I would have been happy with sometime next week. SO my order just sits there. I have tried to phone woollies on their so called Priority line but to no avail, just the message that all their customer service people are on other calls. I have tried several times at different timed and waited on line for a while. So much for Priority Assistance for the elderly and vulnerable who are self isolating
    Golden Oldie
    26th Mar 2020
    Fewer registers for better social distances? More would be more appropriate to have shorter queues which can more easely spread for social distancing. An example, at my Coles store. About 8 registers, only 1 or 2 open, with long queues, and the do-it-yourself registers are crowded and too close.
    26th Mar 2020
    They don't need fewer registers open, they need more so that the queues won't ever be more than 3 at a time.
    26th Mar 2020
    So are the stores still open at 7pm?
    I'm not elderly, but I was already struggling before all this started because I am a carer of a person with dementia.
    So what stores are opening at 11am?
    What's the story with the Cleveland,Qld store?
    26th Mar 2020
    Just phone them up or check their website.
    29th Mar 2020
    Phone them? - that's a joke! I accidentally left a small bag of shopping at the check out, so tried to phone them to see if they had it. I tried ringing my local WW store, number is on the store and company web site. Rings about 10 times, then message says the number does not exist, please check.
    So drove down. They admitted they are too busy to take calls, and you cannot even leave a message. I was lucky, they did have my small shopping bag. This happened only 2 days ago.
    27th Mar 2020
    Did anyone see Wednesday nights 7.30 report? Was the best explanation I have heard yet. Please go to ABC view online to watch it. But here is the basic: If we increase testing and put all those who have tested positive into isolation and all those that they have been in contact with in isolation then we can starve the virus. It needs a host to continue, so if 80% of the population stay home we have a much greater chance of starving the virus, if we go hard and have full lockdown we can see it all over within 4-6 weeks. And then restrictions can be slowly lifted so it does not have a chance to re-emerge. We need this on the news every night not all the doom and gloom that it is going to get worse, this is not helping. Japan and South Korea went hard and they are already under the line (watch 7.30 report for this explanantion of what that means). We can do it, give people a choice do you want it to go on for months and possibly a year or do you want to do what needs to be done now to starve it and have it all over within weeks? I know what I want, spread the word.

    27th Mar 2020
    It would be helpful if you could name the 41 Woolworths that are involved in this, rather than me having to ring every branch to see if they are included.
    29th Mar 2020
    Put hoarders and profiteers behind bars x a minimum of six months, no parole. This is the only language crooks understand.
    29th Mar 2020
    This is happening with 2 of my local WW stores, as I live in a QLD area with large number of aged care & retirement facilities.
    But I also have to admit that neither myself, nor any of my friends, both senior and younger, have seen any of the spiteful, selfish, rude, discourteous behavior as shown recently. And I have to add - mostly by young people. The oldies are too slow to get in! Yes, there are limits, but yesterday I was in my local Coles s/m around 11.30, and there were 5 pallets of TR. No rush. No panic. No crazies. Didn't buy any assistance didn't need any. Not into hoarding. Walked into Reject shop and the had stacks of Pine-o-clean anti bacterial wipes, which I did need. No limit, within reason.
    Home delivery is vital for seniors. Plus others. My neighbor is pregnant, 2 weeks to go, and hubby recovering from a knee operation. I haven't mined helping do their shopping, but home delivery is a godsend for them.
    29th Mar 2020
    Here is a joke for you:

    "I was on a long line at 7.45 today at the grocery store that opened at 8 for seniors. A young man came from the parking lot and tried to cut in front of the line, but an old lady beat him back into the parking lot with her cane. He returned and tried to cut into again but an old man punched him in the gut and kicked him to the ground and rolled him away. As he approached the line for the 3rd time he said "If you don't let me unlock the door, you'll never get in" "

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