Loo roll limit: Restrictions imposed at grocery chain as suppliers react to coronavirus panic buying

Canberra 2600

Bulk goods supplier Costco has set restrictions on several of its essential goods at its Canberra store as some customers rush to stockpile in response to coronavirus fears.

Key points:

  • People have rushed to buy essential items fearing the spread of coronavirus could impact availability
  • Costco’s Canberra store has implemented restrictions on how much customers can buy of certain items
  • Other chains say they do not have plans to introduce limits to what customers can purchase

The US chain typically encourages customers to buy goods in bulk, but signs at its Canberra store show heavy restrictions on its toilet paper stock, as well as items like eggs, milk and hand towels.

Customers were being told they could buy a maximum of two 48-packs of toilet paper, as stocks at the store dried up.

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The ABC contacted Costco Australia’s media team for comment, but the company’s managing director, Patrick Noone, earlier told The Australian newspaper its Canberra store had indeed run out of toilet paper.

There have been no confirmed, or suspected, cases of COVID-19 in the ACT.

One man made the trip to the Majura Park store after shopping elsewhere.

“Well I’ve just been to Woolworths and they don’t have any toilet paper … so I thought I’d come and have a look here anyway,” he said.

Another who was also bulk-buying at the store said hearing that others had been rushing to the shops spurred him on to stock up.

“Going to buy some bread, long-life milk, biscuits, everything that can last a while,” he said.

A woman said she wanted to buy a few essentials before they sold out and was worried she would not have other time as her husband is in hospital.

“I bought some dried mushrooms, some noodles, some flour,” she said.

“It’s just in case, I [thought I’d come] while I have time to come here.”

No restrictions for other chains


Costco has now put in place buying restrictions on other popular items. (ABC News: Maddi Easterbrook)

Unlike Costco, Australia’s two largest grocery chains said they did not plan to introduce item restrictions.

In a statement, a Woolworths spokesperson confirmed there had been a “sharp increase” in demand for some items.

“[That] has led to partial stock shortages across some of our stores,” they said.

“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience and thank them for their patience.”

They said the focus remained on getting as much stock into stores as possible.

A Coles spokesperson also said the retailer was experiencing a shortage of some items but that the company had “increased the number of deliveries to stores this week to improve availability on popular products”.

“Like many retailers, we currently have a shortage of some antibacterial handwashes and hand sanitiser products due to high customer demand.”

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news