Woolies Workers
Woolies Workers

Woolies to remove shopping hour for vulnerable

Woolworths stores will return to normal trading hours from Monday as coronavirus-led panic buying subsides and restrictions on product categories are lifted.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the return to normal hours would mean a phase-out of the community hour scheme for senior and vulnerable Australians, which will be replaced by a permanent 10 per cent delivery discount on groceries for people over 60.

"Over the last nine weeks, it has been both interesting and gratifying to see how we, as a community of grocery shoppers, have adapted to this time of dramatic change," Mr Banducci said in an email to customers on Friday.

"We'll phase out the Community Hour we introduced at Woolworths during the demand surge, but after receiving a lot of constructive feedback, it's something we wouldn't hesitate to bring back if required,"

"In parallel, later today we will start offering a permanent 10 per cent discount on Delivery Unlimited for over-60s."

Woolworths workers Mathew McDonald and Danielle Matheou. Picture: Ian Currie
Woolworths workers Mathew McDonald and Danielle Matheou. Picture: Ian Currie


Mr Banducci said over the past nine weeks Australians had become healthier and more adventurous cooks.

"While the slow cooking movement continues, we're also becoming increasingly adventurous. Ingredients such as cardamom, saffron and dried sesame seeds have doubled in sales," he said, noting roasted peppers sales were up 65 per cent, Asian and hot chilli sauces had both climbed up to 40 per cent and capers sales were up 35 per cent.

There has also been explosive growth of dried soup mix packets, with sales skyrocketing 200 per cent.


"It's also interesting to see customers think about their health, with a big rise in vitamin sales, plus ground ginger and turmeric sales up 120 per cent and sauerkraut up 76 per cent," Mr Banducci said.

And not surprisingly due to the lockdown measures, sales of cough and cold products were "much lower" this year compared to last year.

To help with social distancing measures, Woolies will introduce one-way aisles at some of its smaller and Metro-branded stores this week.

Mr Banducci said across the stores, sales of most products are back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

"Just six categories still have limits in place (down from 45 at the height of the surge) and we're hoping we can lift more next week," he said.

On the critical issue of toilet paper, he said sales dropped by 4 million rolls last week, now below the sales of the corresponding week last year.

"This week we are on track to sell between 9m and 9.5m rolls, well down on our peak of 39.7 million rolls a week in mid March or 11m rolls this time last year," Mr Banducci said.

Originally published as Woolies to remove shopping hour for vulnerable