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Supermarkets roll back on buying limits, a week after going national

Australia’s biggest supermarkets have rolled back on a decision to extend buying limits nationwide, as shopping behaviour normalises.

Despite high numbers of Covid-19 cases in Victoria, Coles removed limits on all products at stores nationally on Tuesday, while Woolworths has chosen to limit toilet paper purchases only.

Woolworths Supermarkets managing director, Claire Peters said the decision was based on customers returning to “normal shopping routines” over the past week.

“We are pleased to advise all product limits, except those on toilet paper, have now been lifted at Woolworths nationwide,” Peters said.

“With demand moderating, there is more than enough stock flowing through from our distribution warehouses and into our stores to support all our customers’ grocery needs.”

Peters said Woolworths will continue to monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to reinstate product limits if needed.

Coles announced the move in an update on Monday, and asked that customers continue to buy only what they need and observe all safety and physical distancing measures in stores.

“We thank customers for their patience and understanding while the limits were in place to help us manage increased demand in stores and temporary delays in our Victorian supply chain,” Coles said.

Both supermarkets suffered some supply chain disruption in the wake of staff testing positive for Covid-19.

Last week Coles said it was working with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to get all staff at its Laverton distribution centre in Victoria tested after some team members tested positive for the virus. Woolworths experienced some disruption to online orders when a worker at its West Footscray customer fulfilment centre in Melbourne tested positive to Covid-19.

Support for Melburnians in lockdown

With cases rising by the day in Victoria, the big two supermarkets have poured extra resources into their operations in the state.

On Monday, Coles announced that it is working with the Victorian Government to donate food and groceries to those who have been confined to their apartments as part of mandatory Covid safety measures in Melbourne.

Coles is using its supermarket in Waterfield Street Coburg as a pop-up fulfilment centre to pack 1000 donation boxes with enough fresh produce to feed four people for three days.

The boxes include bread, dairy products, meat and meat substitutes, with long-life groceries and toilet paper already on the way to distribution points.

Meanwhile, Woolworths is focused on increasing online delivery and in-store pick up availability in Melbourne in response to increased demand.

The supermarket will offer thousands more weekly online orders with dozens more trucks added to its Victorian fleet. Pick up and online delivery will be offered as contactless services with all orders packed into reusable bags.

In a bid to keep its own staff safe, Woolworths now has nurses in place across its hotspot stores, Victorian distribution centres and customer online fulfilment centre. Compulsory temperature checks are also taking place at these sites.

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