Ah Shit, Woolies’ Senior Shopping Hour Reportedly Got Off To A Rough Start

Woolworths held its first dedicated shopping hour for seniors and folks with disabilities this morning, offering vulnerable shoppers the chance to stock up on goods without battling through the masses.

But some shoppers claim the initiative was poorly executed, with reports of low stock and barren shelves emerging on social media.

The supermarket chain opened its doors to older Australians and government concession card-holders at 7am nationwide, due to fears that at-risk shoppers are leaving stores empty-handed because of an unprecedented rush on groceries.

That rush, of course, is tied to community fears for the Australian outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Health authorities have promoted the idea of social distancing — which, for many, involves staying at home for extended periods of time — to stem the rate of community infection.

Eligible visitors lined out outside Woolworths stores around the nation before 7am, showing the popularity of the initiative.

Some shoppers have praised the initiative, saying the hour-long period provided a safe atmosphere for at-risk individuals to do their thing.

Others say they found shelves had not yet been replenished with everyday items, including toilet paper, bread, pasta, fresh meat, and hand sanitiser.

“What a farce,” one shopper wrote on the company’s Facebook page. “The shelves were virtually empty.”

“Not sure what the point of this special dedicated hour was for seniors as I’ve just been contacted by my pensioner father and told that the shelves were still empty,” another user wrote.

“No essentials (toilet paper or anything cleaning products) or any pasta, tinned food. I’m sorry but was the idea to help our seniors?”

Others have questioned the logic of permitting older people to converge in sizable groups, given the fact seniors are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of COVID-19.

In a statement obtained by 10 Daily, the company’s Fresh Food Director Paul Harker said some empty shelves were not caused by food shortages. Instead, he says the supermarket chain is facing logistical delays amid never-before-seen conditions.

“Our supply chains are working 24/7 to make sure they get product to our stores,” he said.

Separately, Woolies Managing Director Claire Peters told 10 Daily the initiative’s rollout “wasn’t perfect across all of our stores,” but maintained the company is keen on “getting better along the way.”

The dedicated hour will run every day until Friday, at which point Woolworths will determine if they will extend the policy.

Supermarket chain IGA is also understood to be installing similar measures nationwide after a Victorian store introduced its own dedicated shopping hour for vulnerable Aussies.