Pension card holders queue up outside Woolworths Coffs Harbour early this morning.
Pension card holders queue up outside Woolworths Coffs Harbour early this morning. Trevor Veale

Panic pantries aren't full with supermarkets low on stock

IT'S been an unprecedented disruption to daily life.

Panic buying amid the fear of coronavirus has given way to widespread pantry stocking, leaving supermarket shelves bare, while bringing out the worst in people.

To counteract the mass ­demand for groceries Woolworths has offered special trading hours for pensioners and people with disabilities. 

Pensioners were lined up out the front of Woolworths in Park Avenue, Coffs Harbour early this morning ready to stock their pantry shelves amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Woolworths released information over changes to trading hours to allow a dedicated shopping hour from 7am to 8am for the elderly and people with disability.

"To help support the shopping needs of the elderly and people with a disability in our community, we have introduced this temporary measure to help them obtain the essential items they need most in a less crowded environment," the Woolworths statement said.

"Access to the store at this time will require a relevant Government issued Pensioner Concession or Seniors Card.   Revised regular store opening hours Woolworths will be open from 8am to 8pm from Wednesday, March 18 until further notice.  

"To provide our teams with the ability to get as much product on shelf as possible and prepare the store for trade during these times of unusually high demand, we are changing our trading hours across the country.

"Woolworths Supermarkets is introducing temporary measures across its stores to help support the shopping needs of the elderly and people with disability in the community.

"Today was the first day of the changes and eligible elderly and people with disabilities were lined up down the street for Woolworths in the city centre to open.

"The move has been prompted by the unprecedented demand in supermarkets over the past week, which has seen many elderly and vulnerable people in the community missing out on vital items they may need when they shop.

"The revised opening hours are in place at this stage until Friday, March 20, with Woolworths to review opening arrangements at that point.

Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said "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.

"This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before our stores officially open, helping them obtain the essential items they need most in a less crowded environment," Ms Peters said.

"We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time. Now more than ever, we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable.

"We'd like to thank our customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the revised opening hours."

The move follows the announcement last week that Woolworths Supermarkets had begun working with Meals on Wheels in NSW, via its network of volunteers, to help deliver toilet paper directly to the elderly in the community.



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