- Due to the controlled situation of COVID-19 in Australia, retailers saw shopping patterns return to moderate levels.
- Retailers like Woolworths had eliminated purchase limits across their stores across the country.
- The sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 infections in Victoria from the past few days have fuelled uncertainty in the environment.
- Retailers have cautiously responded to the growing uncertainty in Victoria and have implemented purchase limits for their customers in the state.
Do you remember the initial days of the coronavirus outbreak when several events of panic buying resulted in empty shelves for retailers and a state of high anxiety for millions?
Well, those days might just be around the corner, especially for the people of Victoria. The latest spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Victoria has shaken the sentiment in the country. Over 400 new cases were reported on 17 July 2020, setting a record peak for Victoria, and taking the total to 5,165.
The rising cases of COVID-19 signal towards a second wave of coronavirus in the country as a significant number of cases have emerged due to community transmission.
Among the many unwanted events that have unfolded due to COVID-19, one was panic buying where consumers were flocking to supermarkets to stockpile the necessary items citing the uncertainty around the COVID-19.
However, this time the supermarket operators look prepared and have already taken measures to avoid the situation of panic buying and people getting hopeless of not getting enough groceries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the talk of the town since it was first reported in China. We have already made it through half of 2020, yet there seems no surety of a vaccine discovery or a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Job markets have been reflecting negative sentiments, and there has been a high level of volatility in the financial markets as well. One day you see the market is up, and it keeps the sentiments positive for the next 3-4 day. But another day, the market loses all that it gained over the past 2-3 days in just one go.
However, it looks like people have learned to live with the COVID-19 situation and are becoming less reactive to the unfavourable developments in the market.
These sentiments also hold true for the shopping patterns of the people going to buy from retailers. Woolworths Group Ltd noted that the customers were returning to their normal shopping routines in the last few weeks.
Woolworths Implements Purchase Limits Across Stores in Victoria
Australian supermarket giant, Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX:WOW) was amongst the first retailers to apply limits on purchases as soon as the events of panic buying unfolded and there were incidents of fights among the customers over toilet paper at its stores.
Other than this, WOW also fixed purchasing hours for the elderly citizens so that they can have equal access to essential items.
With the changing scenario and situation looking like under control, the purchase restrictions imposed earlier were lifted across several retailers in Australia.
On 07 July 2020, Woolworths declared that all product limits, except those on toilet paper stores to be lifted at all its stores across Australia, seeing the customers returning to their normal shopping routines in the past week.
On the very next day, WOW had to reinstate purchase limit of two items per customer from both in-store and online across 27 product categories in Victoria due to the sudden rise in the number of COVID-19 infected cases in Victoria.
Of late, there had been a surge in demand across Victoria overnight. By imposing purchase limits, WOW seeks to ensure that more customers have fair access to fresh food and essentials at its stores in these tough times.
Also, WOW said that it has enough stock flowing from its distribution warehouses into its stores that can support all the grocery needs of its customers.
Coles Reinstates Buying Limit Across Various Outlets
In a similar fashion, Coles Group Limited (ASX:COL), another supermarket specialist in Australia, also implemented temporary purchase limits for its Victorian supermarkets after discussion with the Federal and Victorian governments as well as other retailers.
COL seeks to manage demand for key staple items through these limits and to improve the availability of essential food and grocery items across its Victorian supermarkets. Recently, Coles has implemented two-pack purchase limits across all Coles supermarkets, Coles Express and Coles Online in Victoria and Tasmania, as well as Lavington, Albury, and Deniliquin in NSW.
Moreover, Coles supermarkets, Coles Online and Coles Express continue to abide by the one-pack limit for toilet paper and paper towel in all states.
The Australian retailers have taken prudent steps just in time to ensure any material dislocation does not take place amid the growing uncertainty.