Woolies dismisses wild shopping rumour
Supermarket chain Woolworths has hosed down speculation that it is on the brink of shutting down all online deliveries as coronavirus panic buying shows no sign of ending.
This morning, Channel 9 reported that Australia's largest supermarket had "suspended all home delivery and click and collect services across the country".
However, a spokeswoman for Woolworths categorically denied this was the case to news.com.au and said online delivery remained in place in most areas.
"We saw an extraordinary level of demand for groceries across the country this weekend. We're continuing to offer our delivery service in most parts of the country," she said.
"Customers are encouraged to buy only what they need, as we'll continue to receive extra orders of stock in our stores regularly."
However, the company did say delivery had been "temporarily paused" in parts of Victoria except for areas of Melbourne serviced by its centre in West Footscray.
"We understand the decision to suspend delivery services out of Victorian stores will be incredibly frustrating for our customers and apologise for the inconvenience caused. We're currently processing refunds on existing orders for customers.
"We believe this is a necessary step to allow our team members to prioritise restocking shelves and serving customers in our Victorian stores."
Our delivery service remains available in most parts of the country. It's been temporarily paused in parts of VIC. We continue to service a wide range of metropolitan areas in Melbourne from our West Footscray CFC. We'll turn deliveries back on from other VIC stores ASAP.— Woolworths (@woolworths) March 16, 2020
"We'll turn deliveries back on for other Victorian stores ASAP," the company said in a tweet.
This weekend, the company also suspended all supermarket pick-up services nationwide.
On Monday, the company did confirm it would close off its two-hour online delivery window. This is a swifter window which customers pay extra for.
However, it said other delivery windows remained open albeit with lengthy waits as demand on the service increased.
Earlier today, Woolworths announced it would introduce a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and people with disabilities, prompted by the "unprecedented demand" of groceries during the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative will be between 7am and 8am from Tuesday, March 17 until at least Friday, "exclusively" for people with a government-issued concession card.
"The move has been prompted by the unprecedented demand in supermarkets over the past week, which has seen many elderly and vulnerable people in the community missing out on vital items they may need when they shop," Woolworths said in a statement this morning.
The stores will open to all customers from 8am.
"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," Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Claire Peters said.
"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."