Coles implements shopper limits, loosens restrictions on items

Jane Barton celebrated 40 years with Coles last Saturday, even as another round of unprecedented restrictions came into place around grocery shopping.

“We’ve put our customer restrictions in, so when there’s over a certain amount of people, you have to line up outside,” said Jane on Monday. 

The Tumut supermarket now has one dedicated entry and one dedicated exit, with a security guard counting how many shoppers come in and how many go out.

“He just clicks as they go in and somebody else clicks as they go out,” said Jane.

“If there are too many people, they have to queue up outside… but the number is quite generous and it’s been fine.”

The veteran store manager said people are getting used to the changes, with abundant signage asking customers to keep 1.5 metres of space between them and other shoppers or Coles staff. 

Usually, they listen.

“It is really hard to monitor the 1.5 with customers. We can only ask them,” she said.

With Australians now well aware of social distancing precautions and strong encouragements to stay home as much as possible, Jane said shopping habits are changing.

“It was very busy over the weekend,” said Jane.

“I don’t know whether people are just wanting to get out, [because] they’ve been maybe isolated quite a bit and then they’re going out.

“[Also,] if everybody’s at home, they’re all cooking more and they’re all having things at home, so life’s still busy for us.”

Despite the increased demand, supermarkets have been adapting and Jane said they’ve been receiving more stock, allowing staff to fill shelves and keep them full. 

“They’ve taken restrictions off some of the lines, which is good,” said Jane, noting that supply is starting to keep up with demand, except in one key area; “Toilet paper definitely hasn’t come off [the restricted list] or sanitiser.”

Despite the continued demand for toilet paper, Jane said people haven’t been as panicky and there is “a lot more toilet paper flowing in and different people are getting it at different times, which is good, instead of it all going out at one time.”