Coles and Woolworths have reopened their online delivery and ‘click & collect’ services in another sign panic buying is stabilising.

Coles Online reopened for all customers earlier this week, following a temporary suspension enacted in early March for all but their elderly and vulnerable customers through their Coles Online Priority Service (COPS). The service will continue to operate for those aged over 65 who hold a My Aged Care or NDIS number, those in aged care, disability care and businesses that support vunerable communities.

Coles general manager of online and strategic projects Karen Donaldson said they were pleased to resume the services.

“Now that we have COPS in place, it’s great to be able to extend Coles Online deliveries to all customers, and our team has worked really hard over the past few weeks to improve stock availability to help us fulfil customer orders.”

“By reorganising our delivery windows we have been able to increase the number of slots available for customers, and we have also recruited hundreds of extra Customer Service Agents to help us meet increased demand for Coles Online deliveries.”

Retail rival Woolworths has also reopened their online orders after partnering with last-mile courier service Sherpa and Drive Yello. The grocery giant has said in-stoe team members will fill orders, which will then be picked up by the couriers. Orders will be capped at 40 items and delivery will be next-day only.

More than 5,000 new drivers have been signed up to the courier services, while the retailer has also opened a 7,000sqm ‘pop-up delivery hub’ in Melbourne to meet the unprecedented demand.

WooliesX managing director Amanda Bardwell said demand for their online deliveries had doubled in a month.

“We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to find innovative ways to provide this much-needed additional delivery capacity across Australia. In partnership with Sherpa and Drive Yello, we now have a highly flexible and scalable way to meet the needs of many more of our online customers in the weeks and months ahead,” she said,

However, while it’s good news for consumers, other business advocates have been critical of the retailers, with the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia going as far as accusing the pair of hoarding stock.

While some convenience stores have reported consumer fears around shopping in larger retailers had driven more customers into convenience channels for groceries and staples.

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