Carla La Tella

Food & Wine

Coles steps up to stop panic buying

Coles steps up to stop panic buying

Image: Getty 

Buying limits have been reintroduced at Coles for certain groceries as staff shortages and supply chain issues caused by COVID-19 continue to impact stock availability.

Customers will now only be allowed to purchase one packet of toilet paper, while packets of paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin will have a limit of two per buyer.

"Product availability in our stores has been impacted due to pandemic related supply chain disruptions," the supermarket giant said on Facebook on Tuesday.

"There is no need to panic buy — please purchase only what you need. Purchase limits on some items will apply.

"Our team are working hard during this trying time — please remember to show them the kindness and respect they very much deserve."

Empty shelves have become commonplace across the eastern states, particularly in NSW.

However, unlike supply shortages at the start of the pandemic, which were caused by panic buying, the current issues are the result of supply-chain disruption as workers are forced into isolation by the spread of the Omicron variant.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci last week acknowledged the struggles to keep shelves stocked.

"This is because of the number of people in our supply chain in isolation – from suppliers to truck drivers and distribution centre team members – which in turn is causing material delays to store deliveries," Mr Banducci said in a statement.

"To give you a sense of the magnitude of the challenge, we are experiencing COVID-driven absences of 20 per cent plus in our distribution centres and over 10 per cent in our stores."

He added it was unclear when supply processes would return to normal, as staff members were forced into isolation by the Omicron wave.

For Woolworths customers shopping online, automatic substitution of missing items has been established for all orders.

The current shortages have impacted fresh food as well as unperishable goods.

Last week, Coles introduced buying limits for meat in all states except Western Australia.

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