‘Elderly hour’: Australian supermarkets open just for older shoppers

People shop in a supermarket in Sydney, Australia, on March 17, 2020.
People shop in a supermarket in Sydney, Australia, on March 17, 2020. © AFP / FRANCE 24

Some supermarkets in Australia opened early on Tuesday. But for one hour, only the elderly and the disabled were allowed in, a way to give those most at risk a chance to shop away from the crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Following scenes of panic buying for items such as toilet paper in Australia and elsewhere, Woolworths, the country’s largest supermarket chain, decided to set aside one hour a week to allow only those with disabilities or aged over 60 to enter.

But while some shoppers praised the initiative others complained of a lack of stock of some items and long queues outside several supermarkets.

"It is important but I don't think it is the best way. The best way, I think must be delivery at home," said one elderly shopper in Sydney.

"Why they're doing the seven to eight if you've got no stock on the shelf," added another. "Pointless exercise."

Australia is not the only country to try out elderly-only shopping. Similar initiatives have been launched by certain supermarkets in countries including the UK, France and Ireland.

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