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Woolworths and Coles announce further purchase limits and restrictions as coronavirus panic buying continues

Sharon Masige
  • Woolworths and Coles are enforcing a two-item per customer limit on certain products.
  • Woolworths issued the notice on Wednesday, which applies to most packaged goods.
  • Coles has enforced it on several items including pasta, milk, frozen vegetables and soap.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Woolworths and Coles are enforcing further two-item limits per person on certain items as the coronavirus continues to cause panic buying around Australia.

From today, Woolworths is implementing a two-item limit on most packaged items per customer at its supermarkets and online, regardless of the brand or variety.

It is intended to help its suppliers and teams make as many products available as possible.

"Please respect these limits and only buy what you need to help as many Australians as possible access the products they need," Woolworths said on its website.

"Our teams continue to work tirelessly under difficult circumstances, so please treat these dedicated people with the courtesy and respect they deserve."

The grocery chain also highlighted a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to abusive or aggressive behaviour.

The move comes after Woolworths issued a 1 pack limit on toilet paper, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, paper towels, services and 2kg+ rice. It also follows the store's decision to have a special early opening time for the elderly and people with disabilities to go shopping before everyone else.

But there are still items that don't have limits in place:

  • Fresh fruit & veg
  • Meat (excluding mince)
  • Deli
  • Bakery
  • Seafood
  • Fresh milk
  • Canned fish
  • Drinks (ambient and chilled)
  • Baby food
  • Yoghurt
  • Easter confectionery & merchandise
  • Wet dog and cat food

Coles also added more grocery restrictions

Following on from earlier restrictions it imposed, Coles has also issued a two-item limit per person on many products including eggs, milk, chilled pasta and frozen vegetables.

Here is the full list of restricted items:

  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Dry rice
  • Paper towels
  • Paper tissues
  • Hand sanitisers
  • Mince meat – includes beef, pork, lamb, chicken & turkey
  • Eggs
  • Chilled pasta
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen desserts
  • Sugar
  • UHT long-life milk
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Liquid soap
  • Chilled white milk – includes all sizes of Coles Brand and branded white dairy milk, plant-based non-dairy and goats milk

Coles added that it will bring in more limits on certain items which will vary between stores.

"We are grateful to our team members and suppliers who are working tirelessly to do the best job possible under the circumstances, and we thank you for your understanding and support," Coles said on its website. "Please continue to respect and support our team members, particularly if a product isn’t available or the checkout queues are longer than normal."

The measures come as major grocery stores ALDI, Coles, IGA and Woolworths band together to ask Australians to be considerate in the way they shop.

"We understand your concerns, but if you buy only what you need and stick to the product limits, it helps everyone, especially the elderly and people with disability," the companies said in a group statement.

On Monday Coles issued several new measures to keep stores stocked, such as employing 5000 more casual workers, having a "Community Hour" specifically for the elderly and disadvantaged to shop, and temporarily suspending home deliveries for customers outside of those vulnerable or isolated.