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Australia’s panic buying may be ending, Commonwealth Bank credit card data shows

Is panic buying coming to an end? How the demand curve for food and booze is FINALLY flattening as Aussies settle in for coronavirus lockdown

  • Commonwealth Bank credit, debit card data showed decline in panic purchases
  • Food spending dived by 12 per cent last week after a bigger fall in previous week
  • Alcohol spending also plunged by a third in just one week with parties banned 

Australia’s coronavirus panic buying frenzy may be coming to an end.

The Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s biggest bank, has released new data showing spending on food and alcohol had dived for several weeks in a row. 

A month ago, toilet paper shelves at supermarkets were being cleared as the prospect of a COVID-19 lockdown sparked a flurry of frenzied shopping – and a fight in a Sydney Woolworths aisle. 

Pasta and rice were next, prompting Woolworths and Coles to introduce a two-packet limit on rice and pasta. 

Australia’s coronavirus panic buying frenzy may be coming to an end. The Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s biggest bank, has released new data showing spending on food and alcohol had dived for several weeks in a row. Pictured is are empty Coles supermarket shelves at Bondi Junction in Sydney’s east on March 20 – before the drop in food sales

The limits appear to be working with Commonwealth Bank credit and debit card data from showing a 12 per cent fall in food spending in the week ending on April 3.

How panic buying may be ending

Food spending fell by 12 per cent in the week ending April 3

This followed a 21 per cent decline in the previous week

Alcohol sales plunged by 33 per cent last week, after two weeks of solid gains

Source: Commonwealth Bank of Australia Global Economic and Markets Research

This followed a 21 per cent decline during the previous week.

Alcohol spending has also fallen, diving by 33 per cent last week after a fortnight of heavy spending.

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Kristina Clifton said a ban on large house parties had possibly discouraged the binge buying on grog.

‘Restrictions on activity have also been ramped up and people are no longer allowed to socialise with those that they don’t live with,’ she said.

‘There will be fewer barbecues, parties and other social occasions.’

While toilet paper is very slowly returning to some shelves and warehouses retailers like Costco, supermarkets are continuing to enforce one-packet limits on toilet paper and paper towels. 

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Kristina Clifton said a ban on large house parties had possibly discouraged the binge buying on grog with national alcohol sales falling 33 per cent in a week. Pictured is a woman buying several bottles of alcohol at Sydney's Coogee Bay Hotel

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Kristina Clifton said a ban on large house parties had possibly discouraged the binge buying on grog with national alcohol sales falling 33 per cent in a week. Pictured is a woman buying several bottles of alcohol at Sydney’s Coogee Bay Hotel

Timeline of panic buying in Australia

MARCH 1: Panic buying of toilet paper starts, with supermarket shelves around the country cleared out of loo roll as coronavirus fears ramp up

MARCH 4: Coles introduces a four-pack limit on toilet paper.

MARCH 6: Three women are filmed in a fist fight over toilet paper at a Woolworths in Chullora, in Sydney’s west.

MARCH 7: Video goes viral of an elderly woman slapping another shopper across the face as they scrap over the last packet of toilet paper in a Melbourne Coles.

MARCH 13: Woolworths introduces a one-packet limit on paper towels and napkins.

MARCH 17: Woolworths and Coles introduce a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and disabled to stock up without being overwhelmed by the panic buying chaos within some stores.

MARCH 18: Woolworths says customers will only be able to purchase two items from any single category from most packaged products, with the exception of some fresh foods.

MARCH 18: Scott Morrison demands Australians stop hoarding food and other essential supplies in impassioned press conference.

MARCH 24: Coles announces it is allowing emergency service workers – including nurses and police officers – to shop during its dedicated ‘community hour’.

APRIL 1: Panic-buying shoppers forces Woolworths and Coles to scale back their weekly specials  

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