Violent clashes over toilet paper in Australian supermarkets due to coronavirus fears has prompted supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths to announce even tighter purchase limits.
On Sunday, Coles announced shoppers would be further restricted to buying only one pack of toilet paper per transaction, both in store and online.
It comes just days after the retailer introduced a four-pack-per-transaction rule on Thursday morning.
“Unfortunately many stores are still selling out within an hour of delivery,” a Coles spokeswoman said.
“We have therefore made the decision to change the limit to one pack per customer so that toilet rolls are available for more of our customers, particularly the elderly and people who are unable to purchase in large volumes.
“Our suppliers have increased production and we are making additional deliveries to stores, while our team members work hard to restock shelves in stores.”
Woolworths followed suit shortly after and tightened up its initial limit of four packs per transaction down to two packs.
The latest crackdown on bulk-buying comes after two women were charged with affray following a fight over toilet paper at a Sydney supermarket.
When your usual grocery shopping @woolworths turns into a toilet paper fight in the supermarket aisle. Yikes. #toiletpaperpanic for the #coronavirus has taken a whole new level. pic.twitter.com/aKJ283I20C
— Adella Beaini (@adellabeaini) March 7, 2020
Police were called to the brawl at Woolworths in Chullora on Saturday after reports a 49-year-old woman had been assaulted.
Footage of the incident showed a group of women pushing, yelling and fighting over a jumbo packet of toilet paper amid panic buying caused by the coronavirus.
One woman yells, “I just want one packet” to a mother and daughter as they try to wheel away a trolley packed with toilet paper.
The sudden surge in doomsday preppers is largely due to fears of contracting the coronavirus and not having enough supply to last a period of self-quarantine.
Anger is growing towards those who have bought an excessive amount of toilet paper, as well as non-perishable food items like canned beans, because it’s forcing low-income earners to go without.
Aldi and Costco introduced limits of four packs of toilet paper on Thursday last week.
Hand sanitiser has also been flying off supermarket shelves.
Woolworths announced it will keep hand sanitiser stocks behind the customer services counter and bring in a two-pack limit.
“… If we see new shortages, we may introduce other limits,” CEO Brad Banducci said in a letter to customers.
“We’ll only do this if we think it’s absolutely necessary.”
Woolworths has also slapped a limit for bulk rice buys to just one 2kg bag per customer.