Demand for groceries soars in Melbourne as citizens prepare to re-enter lockdown

Supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles have once again reinstated purchase limits at Victorian stores following a surge in demand for groceries, as resident of metropolitan Melbourne prepare to re-enter lockdown for another six weeks.

Both retailers prematurely lifted buying limits nationwide on Tuesday, but were forced to backtrack on the decision a day later due to elevated demand after the announcement from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Under the stage three rules, which will be re-introduced from 11.59pm on Wednesday, people can only leave their homes to get food and supplies, receive or provide care, exercise, and study or work if they can’t do so from home.

On Wednesday, Woolworths enforced a two item limit across 27 product categories at stores and online in Victoria, while a two pack limit on toilet roll remains in place at its stores nationwide.

Woolworths said the move “will help ensure more customers have fair access to fresh food and essentials” and assured customers that all of its supermarkets in Victoria will remain open throughout the stage three restrictions.

“We have more than enough stock flowing from our distribution centres into stores to support all our customers’ food and grocery needs. We encourage our customers to continue shopping as they usually would,” Woolworths said in a statement.

Coles also re-introduced limits on staple items at stores in Victoria. The retailer said limits do not currently apply to any other stores but stock levels will be monitored continually.

Coles chief executive Steven Cain said it was disappointing to reinstate limits, but that it was an important measure to help manage demand.

“Our thoughts are with the many Victorians who will now be required to isolate at home, and we will continue to work with the state government to provide whatever assistance they need,” Cain said.

“To help provide a safer shopping experience in our stores, we would ask that customers continue to treat our team members with respect, observe social distancing in stores, make use of the sanitising stations at the entrance, and plan their visit so they can be ‘speedy shoppers’.

With cases rising by the day in Victoria, the ‘big two’ 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.

Woolworths is working with Foodbank and FareShare to provide over 3000 residents in public housing towers in Melbourne with freshly cooked meals and essential food deliveries.

“We hope these meals and essentials will offer some relief to residents in these uncertain times,” Woolworths Victoria state manager, Andrew Hall said.

“FareShare’s Melbourne Kitchen is now cooking up every vegetable they have available and are so very thankful for the urgent orders we have placed to replenish this stock and allow more meals to be prepared. We want to reassure locals that we’ll be here to continue to support them with freshly cooked meals and essential food deliveries through this lockdown.”

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