Northern Rivers shoppers strip shelves, rage at staff
SHOPPERS on the Northern Rivers are arriving early in the day to buy items before the shelves are fleeced.
Shoppers are not just stockpiling toilet paper now ‒ many other aisles are looking bare within hours of stores opening.
"Obviously everyone's already heard about the toilet paper, then it goes to tissues, paper towels and hand sanitiser," Ritchies IGA Ballina store manage Jamie Kealy said.
"Now we are looking at staples; pasta, rice, flour, sugar, pantry-filling stock. Meat's going pretty hard as well, and people must be freezing bread."
Mr Kealy said while most people were courteous, a number of shoppers had been flagrantly rude to his staff amid coronavirus (COVID-19) panic buying.
"There's a lot of panic buying going on across a lot of different categories," he said.
"There are a lot of out-of-stock items, and it's countrywide, not store-related, but unfortunately people are taking it out on our more vulnerable people, our younger staff at the front and people on the floor.
"We wish we could do better and get more stock on the shelf but unfortunately it's just the way things are.
"We'd love more courtesy, at the end of the day everyone is in the same boat.
"You will find a lot of retail workers are working over and above, doing extra hours to try and fulfil the need. To be brought down a peg or two by customers is a bit harsh."
Mr Kealy has urged other customers to speak up if they witness another customer abusing a staff member.
They will go on a recruitment drive to try and meet the growing need of shoppers.
"We're at full capacity, there will be jobs coming up soon," Mr Kealy said.
The Northern Star has heard reports of a customer throwing a packet of toilet rolls back at a staff member in Lismore, after being told she could only buy one packet. There have been other reports of rude behaviour in Lismore supermarkets and police have ramped up patrols of supermarkets to maintain order.
On Monday night, a trip to Aldi in Ballina proved testing for shoppers, with the shelves looking barer than ever.
Astonished shoppers, who usually keep to themselves, shared their disbelief with one another.
On Tuesday morning at 8.30am, shoppers queued outside of Aldi in Ballina to get in quickly while the shelves were full.
Shoppers filed out the door with stacks of products; one shopper had a dozen packets of sanitary items, another had four dozen eggs, another had a whole box full of coffee pods.