Supermarket shelves in some stores in NSW have been stripped of toilet roll as the surge in demand spreads across the border from Victoria.
Supermarket shelves in some stores in NSW have been stripped of toilet roll as the surge in demand spreads across the border from Victoria.

Panic buying spreads beyond Victoria

The resurgence in panic buying appears to be spreading beyond Victoria's borders to New South Wales and potentially South Australia. That's despite NSW have just three new infections today, all from recently returned travellers.

Yet again, toilet roll is the key indicator with multiple reports that shelves are emptying of the bathroom essential in some Sydney suburbs and parts of the Illawarra and Central Coast.

Coles and Woolworths both reintroduced buying limits on certain products at their Victorian branches yesterday as stores faced elevated levels of demand following a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases in the state.

Supermarkets have been at pains to point out that some gaps on shelves are not due to people buying more, but because a number of products are not being made right now as manufacturers concentrate on the staples.

However, shoppers at some NSW stores have said the situation does appear to have deteriorated over the last few days with images on social media showing none, or just a scattering, of loo rolls.

Emptier toilet paper shelves at Woolworths Gosford. Picture: Arna Back
Emptier toilet paper shelves at Woolworths Gosford. Picture: Arna Back


Arna Back told she was surprised when she saw the once again diminished shelves at a Woolworths in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast

"An elderly gentleman was just looking at the half empty shelf and said to me 'here we go again'.

"I think it's ridiculous what's happening. We've had no or very little community transmission and at the moment we have no reason to think we're going into lockdown.

"It's disappointing to think we could head down that panic-buying road again. We should have learned from the last time."

Ms Back said toilet roll seemed to be the most affected with little sign that other pantry essentials were affected.

Posting on Twitter, an exasperated Andrew Gillman showed a near empty aisle of loo rolls at Coles in Merrylands in Sydney's west.

"It was full last night. Toilet paper hoarding doesn't stop COVID-19."

Woolworths told there had been an uptick in demand in NSW, but it was modest and not state wide.

"We've seen pockets of higher than usual demand for toilet roll across parts of NSW today, but not anywhere near the levels we saw in Victoria," a spokesman said.

"We'll keep a close eye on demand over the coming days. We continue to ask customers to buy only what they need, as there is plenty of stock to replenish our shelves."

Coles has been contacted for comment. Neither supermarket has said they will be introducing purchase limits in NSW or other states, bar those in Victoria.


Yesterday, Victorian shoppers were faced with the reintroduction of product limits in response to the recent surge in demand following outbreaks of COVID-19 in some Melbourne suburbs.

Woolworths has enforced purchase limits of two items on toilet paper, hand sanitiser, paper towel, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, UHT milk, eggs and rice.

Coles has limits on most of the same products. A number of NSW stores on the border are also affected as they are supplied from Melbourne.

Both chains have assured customers that there is plenty of stock available for stores and the limits will be temporary.

Shopper Kate, who didn't want to use her last name, told on Tuesday that she had witnessed a number of empty shelves at a Woolworths supermarket in Seaford and a Costco store at Moorabbin Airport.

Both suburbs are in Melbourne's south east with Seaford close to the local government area of Casey, one of those singled out by the Victorian Government as a virus hotspot.

"When I was at the supermarket yesterday, the checkout operator said they had noticed a 'second wave of panic buying'," she said.

"At Costco today shelves were emptier too. Lots of toilet paper sold out, cleaning products too. People buying dozens of bottles of disinfectant."

Kate said while she was only getting her standard pack of toilet paper, it looked like other people were buying more than usual.

"It seemed like overloaded trolleys again and even things like flour were getting low".

Originally published as Panic buying spreads beyond Victoria