Bunnings to stop sausage sizzles
From tomorrow Bunnings will be putting a hold on its iconic sausage sizzles, with the retailer announcing panic sparked by the coronavirus has impacted the availability of supplies.
Bunnings Managing Director Mike Schneider said the "tough decision" was made after speaking to community groups and finding out about the challenges they have been facing in recent weeks.
"Having listened closely to community groups, we've learned of the challenges many groups are facing finding volunteers and even supplies to sell given some of the reported challenges being faced by other retailers," Mr Schneider said in a statement.
"We also want to make sure our team remain focused on helping customers to access the products they need.
"We absolutely understand the important role these sausage sizzles play for thousands of local community groups and charities and that finding alternative fundraising opportunities at short notice isn't easy."
Bunnings sausage sizzles are an extremely popular way for local community groups to raise money, with the retailer's website stating spots are often booked out six months in advance.
Mr Schneider said that in order to assist community groups that have sausage sizzles booked over the next month Bunnings will be donating $500 gift cards to these organisations in order to help with their fundraising.
This adds up to an investment of more than $1.2 million to local groups across Australia and New Zealand.
"There's no doubt that our decision will disappoint some people in the community and we can't wait to bring this much-loved community program back," Mr Schneider said.
The retailer also announced it will be cancelling all other planned in-store activities until further notice, including its Easter and Mother's Day Family Nights, school holiday workshops and trade breakfasts.
Touching on the broader challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, Bunnings said it was following government advice and was applying a "strongly common sense based approach to its operations".
Fears about the coronavirus have resulted in shoppers stripping supermarket shelves bare in a rush to stockpile key items.
Meat has become the latest casualty of Australia's panic buying, with chicken, lamb and beef becoming sought-after products much like toilet paper.
Pictures of empty meat sections in supermarkets have been flooding social media, with shoppers becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of food items.
In a Facebook post Sunday afternoon, Coles announced that it would place a limit on mince, adding it to the growing list of restrictions imposed by the supermarket giant.
Customers are now only allowed two packs of mince per person.
The panic buying has become so intense that both Woolworths and Coles have set up a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and vulnerable to come into stores and buy the items they need.
People with government-issued concession cards flocked to Woolworths stores this morning between 7am and 8am, but not everyone was happy with how the first day of the initiative panned out.
While Woolies' had never promised to have the stores fully stocked, that was clearly the assumption from some who expected to tick everything off on their shopping list.
Instead shoppers reported essentials running out within minutes, even in this special elderly hour.
Woolworths fresh food director Paul Harker said the initiative had proved very popular on Tuesday morning, but agreed there were still shortages of toilet paper and pasta.
"Our supply chains are working 24/7 to make sure they get product to our stores," he said.
More broadly, Mr Harker said there was no shortage of goods in Australia. "It is a logistics exercise of moving the product to get it back into stores with the pace and demand we're seeing," he added.
The Woolworths shopping-hour program will be reviewed later this week to see if it can be improved.