Woolworths to cut opening hours

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.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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