Shoppers empty supermarket shelves amid rush for essentials
Supermarkets shelves are being stripped bare as shoppers fearful the coronavirus will become a pandemic load up on essentials.
Over the weekend, shocked customers at Woolworths and Coles stores began posting photos online of empty supermarket shelves.
At both Coles and Woolworths stores in Chatswood, on Sydney's lower north shore, stocks of rice, pasta and toilet paper appeared to be wiped out yesterday afternoon.
"A staff member told me shoppers have been stocking up today. Similar situation at Aldi across the road where they've pretty much run out of pasta and toilet paper," A Current Affair producer Josh Louder tweeted.
At Woolworths in Hornsby this morning, on the upper north shore, the situation was much the same, with empty shelves where the pasta and toilet paper should be.
Last week, nine.com.au reported on the shortage of hand sanitisers as anxious shoppers flocked to chemists and supermarkets to stock up.
Some Priceline stores, including the Wynyard store in Sydney's CBD, have started placing limits on how many bottles of hand sanitiser customers can buy.
A spokesperson for Woolworths confirmed some stores were experiencing "partial stock shortages" due to an increase in demand for long life pantry items and household staples.
"Our teams have been working hard to replenish these products as quickly as possible," the spokesperson said.
"We have good stock levels to draw on in our distribution centres and will continue working closely with our suppliers to maintain supply."
"We apologise to customers for the inconvenience and thank them for their patience."
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A spokesperson for Coles denied the supermarket chain was experiencing shortages on essential pantry items and said the only stock issues were related to hand washing products.
"Coles has increased the number of deliveries to stores this week to improve availability on popular products, such as long-life pantry staples and healthcare items.
"Like many retailers, we currently have a shortage of some antibacterial handwashes and hand sanitiser products due to high customer demand.
"We are continuing to work with our suppliers to maintain availability for customers."
One woman who has been stocking up on essential items for weeks is Dianne Regan.
The Sydneysider told the Today Show this morning that she began stockpiling medical supplies and cleaning products after Australia Day, when a friend with family members in Wuhan warned her of the virus.
"I am getting things I think my family would need … things like medicines and Panadol and Nurofen and cold and flu tablets," Ms Regan said.
With a daughter who has severe asthma and an elderly mother with Alzheimer's, Ms Regan said she felt the need to be more prepared than most.
"I'm definitely not a doomsday prepper, 100 percent I have never done this in my life. I feel I would like to be prepared for the worst but I am definitely hoping for the best," she said.
However, Ms Regan admitted she did feel "a little bit crazy" when she bought a supply of face masks.
"I did get those four weeks ago and when I got them I felt like I was on some sci-fi movie or something," she said.
Contact reporter Emily McPherson at [email protected]