Despite delivery delays, staff shortages and widespread supply chain disruptions, Woolworths does not plan to roll out product purchase limits anytime soon.
The increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and the resulting isolation requirements have put pressure on food manufacturers and the entire transportation and retail sector.
The latest National Cabinet meeting resulted in changes to the testing requirements for lorry drivers, removing the need for a PCR test every seven days. The prime minister said the decision was key to ensuring food distribution networks can keep moving.
“We need truckers to keep trucking…to keep moving things,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Coles supermarkets in all states and territories except Western Australia reintroduced temporary purchase limits on meat and poultry, with a spokesperson suggesting this may take several weeks before things return to normal.
In a letter to Everyday Rewards members on Friday, Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said it was clear the country had entered a “very different phase of COVID”.
“When shopping with us right now, you may have unfortunately noticed shelf voids or substitutions in your online order,” he said.
“Unlike the early 2020 surge of purchases (which might overlook toilet paper), this is due to the number of isolated people in our supply chain … which in turn is causing significant delays in store deliveries. “
Those who are isolated include vendors, truck drivers and fulfillment center team members.
“To give you an idea of the scale of the challenge, we are experiencing COVID-related absences of over 20% in our fulfillment centers and over 10% in our stores,” he said.
Mr Banducci said while stores in New South Wales were the most affected, the business had seen impacts “across the country”.
“It is not yet clear how soon the system will return to equilibrium as we cross the Omicron wave,” he said.
He acknowledged “how frustrating it is not to find the product you are looking for”, but said there was “more than enough stock in the system and many more to come”.
“We also have a good supply in every ‘category’ of products (even if your favorite product isn’t available, a good alternative should hopefully be), so it really helps if you can be flexible with the choices you make.
“We will of course also ask you to continue shopping as you normally would and to continue to show kindness to our teams.”
He thanked all customers for their support and understanding.
A Woolworths spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au that customers had ‘purchased in reasonable quantities and were only buying what they needed’, so product limits were not necessary at this stage. .
“We will continue to closely monitor product availability in our stores. Although we are experiencing delays in stock deliveries to our stores due to the impacts of COVID-19 across the supply chain, deliveries continue to arrive daily.
We continue to restock our shelves as often as possible
“Stores may have reduced availability of certain products at certain times of the day before they receive their next delivery, however, we continue to restock our shelves as often as possible.
“We ask our customers to be mindful of others and to continue shopping normally as they have.”
Purchase limits remain on the rapid antigen test kits, however, with customers limited to one pack per purchase.
– With PAA