Woolies imposes toilet paper restrictions
Some of the major retailers across Australia have now enforced a limit on how many packs of toilet paper rolls customers can purchase.
It comes after shoppers rushed to local stores this week to stock pile on household goods including life long milk, antibacterial gel and baby products amid coronavirus fears.
A Perth mother-of-six was shocked to learn that her Woolies had now capped the amount of toilet paper packs as a result of "panic buying".
"So I just went to Woolies (in Perth) and found there's a 4 packlimit on toilet paper during this 'shortage'. Our store only had a few 4 roll Kleenez $7 packs which I had to succumb to due to 6 kids! What the heck," she wrote in a budget Facebook group.
Woolworths confirmed to news.com.au it has capped four toilet paper packs per customer after many of its chains had been wiped clean of the product.
Packs sizes vary from two to 30 rolls.
A spokesperson said it was to ensure "more customers have access to the products" and will not only be applied in-store, but online too.
"It will help shore up stock levels as suppliers ramp up local production and deliveries in response to higher than usual demand," the spokesperson said.
"Our teams are continuing to work hard on restocking stores with long-life food and groceries from our distribution centres."
However, the spokesperson confirmed the vast majority of the products in its range remain available for customers as normal.
"We apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused by temporary stock shortages and thank them for their patience."
Bulk goods supplier Costco has also set restrictions with customers being told they can only buy a maximum of two 48-packs of toilet paper.
The main stores that have been wiped clean of the product are Costco in Auburn, NSW, and stores in Canberra.
"We are in Auburn today and we have sold out of toilet paper in about three hours, so it is happening," Costco Australia managing director Patrick Noone told The Australian. "It is happening in a few Costco buildings."
Mr Noone said the US supply chain is restocking the in-demand product everyday with factories and vendors shipping as much as they can as quickly as they can.
Costco sources its toilet paper supplies from Kimberly-Clark but is also seeking supplies from other vendors to plug the gaps in its warehouse stores.
Empty shelves at local Coles. Rice/Pasta/Flour/UHT Milk/Milk Powder/Noodles/Toilet Paper/Paper Towels/OTC Medicines all gone. Many shoppers are stunned at the scenes. #panicbuying #coronavirusaustralia pic.twitter.com/MEzFevrf29— David Cao (@DavidCaoEV) March 2, 2020
I went shopping this morning & if Coles in Coburg is anything to go by, there is much #PandemicPreparedness shopping going on. I saw a woman fill a trolley sky-high with Detol wipes & nappies. I bought 4 tins of tomatoes & 3 packs of pasta. A few of bottles of 🍷& we’ll be set! pic.twitter.com/Ud95xgOlyT— Lisa Wild (@wheeliebinit) February 29, 2020
On Tuesday, a Twitter user posted an image that showed tissues, eggs and A2 3.5L light and full cream milk also capped with shoppers only allowed to buy two "per member, per transaction".
Mr Noone told the publication that sanitisers, disinfectants, oils, rice and flour were also "selling very well".
Coles and Aldi are yet to confirm to news.com.au if they too have enforced purchasing restrictions on certain goods.
Earlier this week a Coles spokesperson said the retailer was experiencing a shortage of some items but that the company had "increased the number of deliveries to stores this week to improve availability on popular products".
"Like many retailers, we currently have a shortage of some antibacterial handwashes and hand sanitiser products due to high customer demand."
Images circulating on social media showed Aldi to also be hit with toilet paper shortages.
In the Aldi Mums Facebook group one woman simply asked "What is wrong with people?" as she shared two photos of empty shelves.
It showed an entire row of missing napkins and other household goods.
"Panic buying causes hysteria. People who really need these products won't be able to get them because of this madness," the woman wrote.
Hundreds of members commented on her post, agreeing that the reaction to the virus is "just ridiculous" and "insane".
An Aldi spokesperson told news.com.au on Monday it is "monitoring the situation like all responsible retailers".
AFL WAG Rebecca Judd also took to Instagram to share a story with her nearly one million followers of empty toilet paper shelves at her local Coles.
"Guys, for real. This is the Brighton Coles and there's no toilet paper," the mother-of-four said.
She then zoomed in on a tiny section on one shelf that stocked just a few packs of toilet paper.
"There's a bit left so I'm grabbing it all, just down there," she said. "That's it, that's where the toilet paper usually lives."
"Oh, my God. Imagine not having any toilet paper. Far out," the 37-year-old continued.
Judd then shared an image of three packs of toilet paper she bought, adding, "People were stocking up on toothpaste and long life milk too."
Extreme "panic buying" has been sweeping Australian supermarkets for the last few days as people rush to stock up in a bid to protect themselves from the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The virus has now spread to 33 new countries in the past nine days - bringing the total number of affected countries to more than 60.
The world death toll is 3087, with the total global cases reaching 92,863 and 48,469 recovered as of Tuesday, according to Worldometers.