Product restrictions reintroduced in Victoria on panic buying fears

Purchase limits have been reintroduced on pantry staple products in Victorian supermarkets as new cases of COVID-19 spark fears of more panic buying.

Victoria is in the midst of a new wave of virus cases, many of which have arisen from community transmissions. The state recorded 20 new cases yesterday and one death and fears of a return to tight restrictions has seen Coles and Woolworths get on the front foot of avoiding the empty shelves and depleted stock levels seen in March when panic buying was at its peak.

Coles has introduced temporary limits on key items such as toilet paper, which has been limited to one pack per customer. Pasta, hand sanitiser, mince meat, eggs, flour, UHT milk, rice and sugar have been limited to two products per shop. Paper towel has a one product limit.

They have also been implemented in three NSW stores – Lavington, Albury and Deniliquin, located near the Victorian border which are stocked by their Victorian distribution centres.

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the measure was to ensure all customers had access to grocery items..

“Following discussion with the Federal and Victorian governments as well as other retailers, Coles is implementing temporary purchase limits for our Victorian supermarkets to help us manage demand for key staple items,” Mr Cain said.

“We ask that customers continue to shop normally so that everyone can have access to the food and groceries they need.”

Woolworths has also introduced limits on the same key items, limiting customers to two packs per shop. Managing Director of the grocery giant Claire Peters said in a statement yesterday labelled the measure as “precautionary”.

“We understand many Victorians are anxious about the recent community outbreak, but they can be assured our stores will remain open with plenty of stock in our warehouses to replenish our shelves,” Ms Peters said.

“While we have healthy stock levels to draw on, we’re taking this precautionary step to help prevent excessive buying and support appropriate social distancing in our Victorian stores.”

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