Aldi to slash store hours amid virus panic
Aldi Australia has announced it will restrict its shopping hours in a bid to cope with panic buying as coronavirus fears mount.
The supermarket chain issued a statement today stating it would be limiting supermarket hours across the country as of March 18 to dedicate more time to restocking shelves and "allow thorough cleaning" its stores.
"Our employees and businesses throughout our supply chain have been working incredibly hard to deliver more products than ever into stores each day," reads a statement on Aldi's site.
"We are operating at full-steam and working under immense pressure to provide products to every single customer that shops with us. We also want to let you know that there is more than enough food to go around; we just need your patience and support."
Coles has today introduced new purchase limits to improve availability for customers. Shoppers may now only purchase two packs per customer of the following: eggs, chilled pasta, frozen vegetables and frozen dessert.— Coles Supermarkets (@Coles) March 16, 2020
Aldi supermarkets will be changing all store trading hours to 9.30am - 7pm, unless other state and local trading restrictions apply.
"We will continue to re-evaluate these hours on a weekly basis and communicate the decision to either uphold these hours or return to normal trading hours."
As well as ensuring the store has adequate time to restock, limited shopping hours will also mean staff have time to rest and recover after hectic shifts.
On top of this, Aldi advises reduced hours will also support the work done by its distribution centre employees and allow for thorough cleaning of its stores.
As the coronavirus crisis takes hold, major supermarkets are being forced to limit supplies to shoppers on an almost daily basis.
Coles and Aldi yesterday announced more buying limits as desperate shoppers continue to strip shelves bare of essential items amid coronavirus fears.
Coles issued a statement to customers on Twitter stating it would be adding eggs, chilled pasta, frozen vegetables and frozen dessert to the growing list of food and household items shoppers were limited in buying - all items were now capped at two packs per customer.
Coles has also temporarily suspended its change of mind policy to discourage over-purchasing.
Coles' chief executive office Steven Cain said staff had been working "as hard as possible" to get more products on shelves - but more action was needed.
"As the situation around coronavirus continues to develop, we believe that everyone in the community should have access to their share of grocery items, particularly the elderly," he said.
"If you have already purchased additional items you no longer want, please look at donating them to community organisations or neighbours who have been struggling to purchase them during this time.
"We will get through this together," Mr Cain added.
Aldi Australia's CEO Tom Daunt also announced new limits in the German supermarket while calling on shoppers to be "calm".
From today, shoppers will now be restricted in buying dry pasta, flour, dry rice (excludes microwave rice), paper towels and hand sanitiser - all of which are now limited to two packs per customer.
Previously, Aldi had held off introducing grocery limits, only restricting shoppers to one pack of toilet roll.
"We know many of you are worried about the spread of coronavirus and your ability to access fresh food, hygiene products and essential items," Mr Daunt said in a statement. "We want to let you know that there is more than enough food to go around; we just need your patience and support."
He went on to explain that demand had "skyrocketed in the last few weeks", leading to the decision to temporarily suspended change of mind refunds to discourage over-purchasing.
Aldi Australia has also issued new conditions of entry to its stores to tackle the "absolutely unacceptable" acts of violence towards staff as fears heighten.
It also addressed those who try to "game" the product restriction policies following reports families were getting around toilet paper limits by sending young kids to the check-outs.
Woolworths has also taken a tougher stance on food restrictions, with CEO Brad Banducci issuing customers a grim message about toilet paper supplies on Saturday as Australians continued to panic buy and stockpile among a number of household "staples".
In an email sent to hundreds of customers, Mr Banducci said toilet paper "won't be available for pick up orders for the time being".
"Limits are now in place on toilet paper, wipes, paper towels, serviettes, rice and some other items," he said.
"Our toilet paper suppliers continue to work on meeting increased demand, and we're working with some suppliers to prioritise the production of smaller pack sizes, so we can make more packs available to you this week.
"Our team will be happy to see if toilet paper is available in store when you come in to pick up your order.
"We've been working hard to keep our shelves stocked and delivery and pick up windows available.
"However, as you are no doubt aware, demand is still very high and products are being bought more quickly than usual when they arrive in store.
"These remain challenging times and with the situation evolving."
Mr Banducci said Woolworths had augmented its cleaning and hygiene practices with "an extra four hours of proactive deep cleaning in each supermarket every day".
He also said if any customer or employee at any individual supermarket was confirmed as having COVID-19 "we'll let you know in that store".
The supermarket chain also announced that they've partnered with Meals On Wheels to deliver toilet paper to the nation's seniors.
"We've now partnered with Meals On Wheels to begin the delivery of toilet paper directly to seniors in need," the supermarket wrote.
"The first deliveries were made in NSW today and we're doing what we can to expand this service in the weeks to come."
Woolworths yesterday also introduced an "exclusive" shopping time for the elderly and disabled after heartbreaking images of people in empty aisles went viral.
The initiative will be between 7am and 8am and launched today, March 17 and will run until at least Friday, for people with a government-issued concession card.
It was a decision that was quickly followed by Coles who also introduced the same shopping hour for the elderly and those with disabilities.