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Coles and Woolworths suspend deliveries as demand for groceries rapidly rises

Coles and Woolworths have announced it is suspending its “click & collect” and some home delivery services for majority of Australian consumers due to unprecedented demand.

On Monday 16 March, Coles extended the cancellation of its Uber Eats delivery service after struggling to fulfill online orders due to panic buying in preparation for possible self-isolation periods in Australia as a result of the global spread of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Woolworths has said that last weekend saw a record amount of shoppers through the supermarket’s door, with sales exceeding that seen over Christmas or any time during the past 12 months.

Claire Peters, Woolworths Managing Director said the leading Australian supermarket is unsure when “click & collect” and home delivery would return to normal, however it will only be temporary.

Claire said Woolworths is working very hard with its suppliers and due to most of its products being manufactured or grown in Australia “we do not have a concern about the supply of our product”.

“What were facing now is that short term spike and all that product is coming back to our supply chain over the next couple of days and weeks to come,” Claire said.

Woolworths are temporarily suspending delivery services out of Victorian supermarkets until further notice but continue to service online deliveries in selected metropolitan areas from its West Footscray Customer Fulfilment Centre.

“We have temporarily paused our online ‘Pick up’ and ‘Delivery Now’ (our on-demand, in under 2-hour delivery service) services due to temporary shortages on a number of items and to allow our teams to focus on serving customers in-store,” the company said in a update on Sunday March 15.

Coles supermarkets are suspending online shopping to all customers except the isolated and vulnerable.

The company also suspended all supermarket pick-up services nationwide and will close stores early from Wednesday March 18 as it continues to try and cope with unprecedented demand.

Coles stores are following Woolworths lead by introducing a “community hour” from this Wednesday too, allowing access  to elderly and disabled customers between 7 and 8am if they present a disability or pension card.

There will be a a temporary nationwide shutdown of all Woolworths’ 1000 stores as all stores will close earlier than usual.

Coles and Woolworths supermarkets will only trade between 8am and 8pm on weekdays to allow for more efficient stock replenishment out of trade hours.

A spokeswoman from Coles said at this stage, the build of its two highly automated, multi-temperature customer fulfilment centres in Australia’s largest capital cities, Melbourne and Sydney has not been delayed due to current demands.

She said said it is not unusual for Coles to face disruption, which can occur for many reasons, from environmental factors such as floods, cyclones and bushfires to third party disruptions.

“We have comprehensive response plans in place across our network that cover contingencies including resourcing and product sourcing,” the Coles spokeswoman said.

“We are working with our suppliers and transport partners to manage our response to the Coronavirus and minimise any long-term impacts on product availability for customers,

“We are also keeping in close contact with affected suppliers, not just those in impacted countries but also local suppliers who source raw materials or packaging from impacted countries, such as China.”

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