Woman in ‘tears’ over panic buying

A photograph of an elderly woman "in tears" in front of empty shelves in a Melbourne supermarket has demonstrated the heartbreaking consequences of people's panic buying behaviour.

The picture was taken at midday on Thursday in the canned food aisle of the Port Melbourne Coles by Nine News journalist Seb Costello.

"This captures who is suffering from the me-first, unnecessary, trend of panic buying," he wrote in a post shared to Twitter.

Australia's major grocery stores - Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Aldi - have been forced to take increasingly extreme measures as people have continued to ignore warnings that there is no need to hoard supplies.

Police have had to step in to help hand out toilet paper, strict limits have been imposed on the quantity of items shoppers can purchase at one time, and a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and disabled has been introduced - to mixed success.

In a blunt message to Australians on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people it was "ridiculous, un-Australia, and it must stop".

"It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis," Mr Morrison said.

Bad behaviour and people emptying supermarket shelves were distracting officials' attention and diverting important resources to keeping shopping centre supply lines open, he said.

Today host Karl Stefanovic, however, said on Friday morning it was understandable people were feeling "frustrated and probably a little bit angry and also a little bit upset".

"We saw a number of people who are looking at these shelves and you can't help but feel for them, feel desperately for them because they feel uneasy and feel like they won't be able to get their supples," he said.

"They feel alone and isolated and like no-one is looking out for them."

 

Police have been called in to help bring some order to Australia’s supermarkets. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley
Police have been called in to help bring some order to Australia’s supermarkets. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley

Supermarkets have been faced with shortages of toilet paper - and now pantry staples like rice, pasta and canned goods - all month as shoppers have continued to strip shelves amid fears a coronavirus pandemic could see a disruption in supplies.

Tensions have boiled over into physical fights, with NSW Police charging two women with affray after an incident over toilet paper in a Chullora Woolworths in Sydney earlier this month. A man also had to be tasered in a Big W in Tamworth, northern NSW, over a stoush over the precious loo roll.

Australia now has 928 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and seven people have died.

Originally published as Woman in 'tears' over panic buying

A police officer watches on as people queue for a delivery of toilet paper, paper towel and pasta at Coles in Epping, Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley
A police officer watches on as people queue for a delivery of toilet paper, paper towel and pasta at Coles in Epping, Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley

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