Woolworths coronavirus: Fears restrictions could lead to Christmas stock shortages

Woolworths coronavirus: Fears restrictions could lead to Christmas stock shortages

Woolworths has warned the Victorian Government that stores could face Christmas stock shortages if tough restrictions are not eased soon.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci also cautioned the Government that shortages of products at one store could result in shoppers moving between stores to find the goods they need, which is at odds with the Premier’s goal of reducing movement during the pandemic.

Mr Banducci’s comments came at an industry roundtable of about 100 businesses with the State Government, that was hosted by the Business Council of Australia on Wednesday night.

Woolworths has maintained the availability of stock was not the issue, but logistic issues due to restrictions limiting capacity in distribution centres and warehouses could impact the ability to get products to stores when demand peaks over the Christmas period.

This could lead then lead to shortages across multiple stores as customers shopped around to find what they needed.

In a statement, Mr Banducci said Woolworths recognised the “unique challenge” Victoria was facing and they valued the open dialogue they have had with the Government throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve been working to support the Government’s overarching health objective of reducing community movements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

“As part of this, we’ve shared data-driven insights on anticipated shopping behaviour in the lead-up to the busy Christmas season to help inform policy making as it relates to our supply


He said Woolworths remained committed to working closely with the Government to help reduce community movement wherever possible while also ensuring Victorians had access to their essential needs in a COVIDSafe environment this Christmas.

It’s understood the supermarket giant is advocating for a return to 100 per cent supply chain capacity as soon as possible, and without it in coming months individual stores could face stock shortages across certain products, similar to what was seen in March and April when panic buying peaked.

At the roundtable Woolworths shared modelling on the impact stock shortages in individual stores could have on broader community movements based on shopping behaviour from March and April.

Woolworths has more than five million customers per week in Victoria across its more than 600 sites.

The State Government introduced tough restrictions in early August to try to halt Victoria’s second wave that forced distribution and warehousing businesses cut staff by a third.

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