Surprising new items Aussies are hoarding
Supermarket shoppers have grown accustomed to the sight of empty shelves and bare aisles over the past six weeks - particularly when on the hunt for toilet paper or a packet of pasta.
And according to Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci, panic buyers aren't showing any signs of slowing. In fact, they've now got their eye on a couple of new hot-ticket items.
Just as the prospect of a "full lockdown" prompted hoards of frenzied shoppers to stock up on toilet paper and pasta over a month ago, Aussies forced to work from home or in self-isolation have decided to reach for baking needs - of the packet-mix variety - and cleaning supplies to occupy their days with around-the-house chores while cooped up at home.
"Two of our highest growth categories this week have been cake mixes and household cleaning products. A lot more kids are baking and parents cleaning as we all spend more time at home," Mr Banducci said.
He went on to add that Woolies is still selling out of both pasta and toilet paper, even now.
In the past week, the supermarket giant has sold 21.5 million toilet rolls, and are having to stock 500,000 extra packets of pasta on shelves every seven days.
"Amazing as it might seem, we are still seeing almost double our normal demand for toilet paper. Just this week, that was over 20.5 million rolls," he said, urging people to "only buy what they need".
"With pasta, we have an extra 1,000 pallets a week coming in, which is more than half a million extra packs. It will still be patchy for a while, but we are expecting much more stock on shelves next week.
"We're doing our best to keep up with the extraordinary demand for cleaning wipes, including securing extra supply from alternative sources in the short term, much of which will start to arrive in stores in the coming weeks."
Mr Banducci's plea for shoppers to only buy what they need comes as major supermarkets reveal they will be enforcing social distancing restrictions in the lead up to Easter.
Woolworths and Coles are limiting the number of customers allowed into the store based on a 'one in, one out' policy.
Customers will be expected to queue outside from Monday and shopping hours will be extended in a number of stores. Security officials and police will manage the lines at peak times and enforce the 1.5 metre distancing rule.
Coles boss Matt Swindles said from Monday it would be "restricting the number of customers that can enter a store should we get to a volume that is too great for us to maintain" a safe distance.
He said this would be enforced with a combination of third party security guards and specially-trained Coles staff.
How many customers are let inside Woolworths to shop at any given time will be determined by the floor space of each individual store.
Customers may be counted at the door and asked to queue in the street, being allowed in as other shoppers finish buying and leave the store.
Meanwhile, a range of measures have been put in place to make Woolies stores safer for staff.
They include asking customers to keep 1.5m between each other in store, the installation of new Plexiglass screens across staffed check-outs and asking shoppers to packing their own bags at the checkout.
Woolworths' checkout teams now rotate every two hours to limit face-to-face interaction and there has been a significant increase in the cleaning of "high touch" surfaces and daily deep cleaning.
Originally published as Surprising new items Aussies are hoarding