Coles and Woolworths announced changes today to their opening hours that will allow “vulnerable” customers to get what they need so they are less affected during the spree of panic-buys following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Starting today, Coles and Woolworths supermarkets will launch a “Community Hour” purely for the elderly and the disadvantaged. Both supermarkets will now be open from 7am – 8pm with the first hour dedicated to people with a government-issued Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Companion Card and Health Care Card.
For Woolworths, the “Community Hour” is as follows: 7am to 8am – Tuesday 17th to at least Friday 20th March. Coles has not stated an end date to these revised trading hours.
“While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop,” Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Claire Peters said.
Coles has placed restrictions on pasta, rice, flour, paper towels, hand sanitiser, eggs, frozen products, and mince. Woolworths has also applied the same restrictions except for frozen goods and eggs. Toilet paper remains at one pack per person.
“This is not the time for others to be selfish,”said National Seniors Australia CEO Professor John McCallum
Coles is also recruiting over 5000 casual members to help serve customers and replenish shelves at a faster rate, but will no longer be delivering to customers except for those who are in genuine need. Click & Collect services and its UberEats delivery have also been temporarily cancelled. Woolworths, though, has continued to work with Meals on Wheels as a means of delivering toilet paper to the people who need it.
“Coles is taking all possible steps to improve the level of stock on our shelves for the community. Our team members, suppliers and transport partners have been working as hard as possible delivering more products to stores every day and replenishing shelves of popular products such as toilet paper, long-life pantry staples and healthcare items as quickly as possible.”
It’s expected that IGA will soon follow with a similar scheme to Coles and Woolworths.