Australia’s supermarkets are extending their trading hours and abandoning special shopping times for the elderly and vulnerable as the coronavirus crisis eases.
From Friday, almost 200 Coles stores nationally will open their doors from 6am, to ease pressure on families juggling home schooling and working-from-home arrangements.
A special community shopping hour – which had been set aside for elderly and vulnerable customers and emergency and healthcare workers in the early days of the pandemic – will also be opened up to everyone.
Coles chief operations officer Matt Swindells said it was time to resume all-access trading, now that demand and product availability was normalising.
The grocery chain has also reopened its online deliveries and click-and-collect orders to all shoppers, as has rival Woolworths.
Both companies restricted those services to elderly and vulnerable customers when demand was at its peak amid panic buying of essential goods such as toilet rolls, pasta and hand sanitisers.
Aldi said last week its shops would return to standard hours of 8.30am-7pm or 8.30am-8pm, depending on state and local restrictions. Like Coles and Woolworths, it has introduced in-store social distancing measures that will remain.
Aldi has also lifted many restrictions on purchases, including on UHT milk, microwave rice, canned foods and sugar. Restrictions remain on toilet paper, flour, rice, hand sanitisers, eggs and liquid soap.
Coles and Woolworths have also dropped purchase limits on many products.