Coles and Woolworths reinstate buying restrictions

Nick Miles
Head of Insight - Asia Pacific

Date : 02 July 2020

Coles and Woolworths in Australia have decided to reinstate buying limits on toilet roll and paper towels after a surge in demand.

Reacting quickly is vital to manage stock flow

Coles was the first of the two major retailers to lift all of its buying restrictions a few weeks ago, followed by Woolworths shortly afterwards. However, the recent demand has led Coles to restrict buying to one pack of each item per customer and Woolworths limiting it to two of each item. Woolworths Supermarkets managing director, Claire Peters, explained that although demand isn't as high as before, or the same nationwide, Woolworths was moving quickly to ensure that stock remained flowing.

Limits could come and go for some time

The last thing that major retailers globally want is to see a repeatition of panic-buying that occured at the start of the pandemic. Retailers and suppliers continue to work increasibly hard to ensure that shelves remain stocked and managing purchasing limited could be something that we continue to see for sometime.

Before the nationwide announcement, Woolworths had already reinstated a new limit of two items per customer on toilet paper, hand sanitiser, paper towels, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, long-life milk, eggs and rice in the state of Victoria, where there has been a resurgence in panic-buying. However, even if there are peaks in buying across certain states, retailers may still impose nationwide limits, particularly on high demand items, to ensure that stock is fairly distributed.