Woolworths announces special opening times for older shoppers

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Woolworths this morning announced special opening hours for older Australians.

From Tuesday until at least Friday between 7am and 8am, older and disabled people with a relevant concession card can shop exclusively at Woolworths stores. The aim is to help vulnerable Australians who have been unable to buy essential items such as toilet paper and tissues.

“While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop,” said Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Claire Peters.

“This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before our stores officially open – helping them obtain the essential items they need most in a less crowded environment.

“We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time. Now – more than ever – we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the revised opening hours.

“Woolworths Supermarkets will open to all customers from 8am. Access to the store prior to this time will require a relevant government-issued concession card.”

There have been calls for other supermarkets to follow Woolworths’ lead, with The Sunday Project host Lisa Wilkinson highlighting the plight of the vulnerable and fragile in our community.

“They will be feeling very scared right now and we need to put plans in place to ensure they are not left behind,” she said.

“Supermarket bosses, can I suggest you think about leaving that first hour of trade each day for the elderly and those with disabilities or those who can prove that they are shopping for them.

“No huge crowds, everything restocked and freshly cleaned – that is a no-brainer.”

Recent panic buying and hoarding of essential goods has also led to supermarkets changing policies.

Woolworths has halted its click and collect and its delivery services, while Coles has introduced a new two-pack-per-person limit on customers stockpiling mince.

Woolworths is concerned its pick-up service is facilitating panic buying by shoppers, also its ‘delivery now’ service which aims to deliver groceries within two hours.

Supermarkets are urging shoppers to “shop as they normally would” but to pick up a couple of extra items each time they shop, rather than stockpiling and depleting shelves. “There will be enough products for everyone,” said a Coles spokesperson, while a Woolworths spokeswoman said consumers should “only purchase what they need”.

Regardless, many frustrated shoppers are still unable to buy many essential items such as toilet paper, tissues, rice, pasta and hand sanitiser.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, told Insiders: “For most people, we don’t want to encourage panic buying at the moment”.

“I think it is probably sensible to have a few days of supplies,” he said.

Yet shelves continue to be emptied, making it especially difficult to buy tinned food, laundry detergent and powder, sanitary items and meat.

This may cause inconvenience for shoppers, and supermarket staff are bearing the brunt of shopper frustrations.

“Our team members are doing the very best they can during these challenging times and we ask our customers to remain respectful in our stores,” said a Woolworths spokesperson.

“The safety of our team members is our top priority and we do not tolerate aggressive or abusive behaviour towards them in any circumstance.”

The next few months will be challenging for many, and it is hoped that Australians are up to the test.

“The true test of a society and who we are as a people is how we respond in a crisis,” said Ms Wilkinson.

Time to see what we’re made of.

Have you experienced supermarket mayhem? Are you prepared for a potential lockdown? What is a standout event/experience you have encountered during this crisis?

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Total Comments: 93
  1. 0

    That’s fine and commendable, but many older shoppers who no longer drive will not be able to get to the shops at those times, as they rely on Community Volunteer drivers or family, who work.

  2. 0

    “older and disabled people with a relevant concession card”

    Define “older” please.

    Define “relevant concession card” please.

    • 0


    • 0

      The problem is how many pensioners who do not drive have photo ID? Unfortunately pension cards do not have photos or DOB so yes they can be used by non eligible person which I expect will happen and is hard to police especially if relatives, friends, neighbours need to shop on the card holders behalf. Nothing appears to be rort free and the rorters will find a way.

    • 0

      Itis not just for aged pensioners. It is for people with a concession card. That covers a wide range of “pensioners”. The aged is the largest group by far, follow by disability, followed by carers. The people over the age of 60(might be younger) that have been on the dole for more than 9 months also get a Blue concession card.

      my daughter who has a disability was on Youth Allowance and she also got a blue concession card. She is now on the disability pension now. She only looks about 18, but she has the right to get up early and do her shopping.

    • 0

      Very fluffy definitions of eligibility. What is a relevant concession card? As for older, older than what? So someone older (than ??) without a concession card then is ineligible. While the initiative is well meaning, it’s not particularly well thought out. It is still unknown whether this will apply to all Woolies branches. According to the news a short while ago there is supposed to be a list on the Woolies web site. If anyone can find this list, good luck. Bit of a brain fart without a plan to make it work seamlessly!

    • 0

      It would be better to divide the floor space of food supermarkets one for general consumers and the other for elderly and concession card holders available at all trading hours.

      7am-8am is ridiculous.

    • 0

      I believe it is to allow first choice of product after overnight replenishment.
      So when the store opens in morning at 7am instead of exclusive time at 10am or 12noon.
      There is product to be had.
      The only other way is holding stock back and giving it out on request and show card.

  3. 0

    What an absolute joke. Do they even realise how long it takes some with disabilities to get ready for a day out, let alone organise transport. This is next to useless, why not close the doors an hour earlier to able bodied?

  4. 0

    They said pensioners and disabled

    • 0

      Pensioners is everybody with a Blue concession card. It covers a wide range of people.

      People on the Dole, who are deemed to not be able to work more than 15 hours a week get a “blue Concession card”. Guess how many of them are out there! Quite a few.

    • 0

      This is EXACTLY what they said…nothing about pensioners at all. This is what Woolworths said:

      “We’re launching a dedicated shopping hour in our stores to help support the needs of the elderly & people with disability in the community. From tomorrow until at least friday, we’ll be opening exclusively for them to shop from 7-8am, where permitted.”

  5. 0

    Great idea, but make it permanent, not just until Friday.

    Well done Whollies!!!!

  6. 0

    Many seniors do NOT receive a pension & so????? Seems more like an advertising/marketing policy thought up on the spur of a moment! Sad when such action is needed. cheers

    • 0

      How OLD does an older person who is not receiving a pension have to be to qualify and what evidence do they have to present?. If they don’t have any ID showing their DOB perhaps they need to bring their birth certificate. It’s not going to as straight forward as Woolies hope.

    • 0

      you do not have to be a pensioner only “elderly or people with a disability”

    • 0

      use your state issued seniors card if you feel the urge to join the early birds

  7. 0

    Well done, Woolworths. A major Supermarket chain has shown initiative to ensure the most vulnerable members of the community have the opportunity to stock up on limited products without competing with and being jostled by the panic merchants and hoarders.

  8. 0

    the only ones this will affect is workers who only have that time to shop.

  9. 0

    Those hours wouldn’t work for me, sadly.

    • 0

      Sadly us also! We live out in the country a bit and are 1-1/2 hours drive from the nearest shop with those hours, which means to get there in time we need to get up at 5am and hopefully get ready to be on our way by 5.30am.

    • 0

      ditto Ductape, the online order service was appreciated, hopefully it resumes soon. Choices have consequences.

  10. 0

    It is a great idea but people the way they are now days will rort it and don’t forget we are taught from the top

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