Product limits must be quickly introduced in the event of local outbreaks of COVID-19

Following the news that Australian grocer Woolworths is reintroducing product limits on select categories in Victoria following a localised outbreak;

Thomas Brereton, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the situation:

“Woolworths’ reintroduction of purchasing limits across some core categories shows that the grocery market’s recovery to normality is unlikely to be a straightforward, continuous process. Food retailers in countries where consumers have a similar attitudes towards stockpiling – such as the UK and US – should take careful note of this development, and be prepared to see a similar trend if there are localised outbreaks in their own countries.

“To mitigate a recurrence of the same levels of panic buying that occurred at the start of the outbreak (for the UK, the end of March), supermarkets must be poised to reintroduce the needed policies, such as ensuring sufficient floor staff to keep shelves replenished. Most importantly, grocers need to be fully up to date with the progression of the outbreak at a localised level, so where necessary can implement product limitations earlier than they did before and avoid entering the unwanted cycle of the image of empty shelves fuelling consumer panic buying.”

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