Coles has announced they will have enough rapid antigen tests for everyone in the next ‘few’ weeks as Australia’s Covid-19 crisis worsens.
Chief executive Steven Cain says the supermarket giant is delivering ‘millions’ of RATs to stores each week but like every other retailer, has struggled to keep up with overwhelming demand with more than 100,000 cases recorded on a daily basis.
‘Customer demand for Rapid Antigen Tests has ‘skyrocketed’ over the past two weeks,’ Mr Cain said in a note to customers on Wednesday.
‘We’re delivering millions of tests each week to our stores and we’ve ordered more from our suppliers, but while demand remains at current levels we expect it will be a few weeks before there are enough tests for every customer who wants to buy them.’
Supermarket giant Coles addressed the chronic shortage of rapid antigen tests in an email to customers
‘To help try to provide equal access for all our customers, we have introduced the limit of one pack per customer. For an update on availability, check the customer notice at the service desk when visiting your local store.’
RATs are currently unavailable to Coles customers shopping online.
The Coles website encourages customers to check product notices at the customer service desk as the supermarket continues to work hard to restocking RAT kits.
‘Please note that our call centres are currently experiencing a high volume of calls and are unable to advise on stock levels of rapid antigen tests in our stores,’ it states.
Steven Cain (pictured) hope to have enough rapid antigen tests for every customer who wants to buy them in the next few weeks
The update comes after Coles introduced a series of temporary buying limits on certain products.
They include two packs of paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin while toilet paper is restricted to one pack per customers in a desperate effort to stop panic buying.
There’s also a buying limit on sausages and mince, along with chicken thighs and fillets.
Mr Cain also updated customers on the impact critical food chain supply shortages have had on the supermarket retailer in recent weeks.
‘Over the last few months, the global and domestic disruption caused by the pandemic has presented us with a number of supply chain challenges. This includes a shortage of wooden pallets and transport workers, and international shipping delays,’ he continued.
Supermarket shelves have been stripped bare across the country due to food supply chains being hit hard by the Covid crisis (pictured a Coles store in Brisbane on Sunday)
‘More recently, an increase in Covid case numbers in the community has required more people to isolate, which has meant fewer people are available to work in Australia – including in the food industry.
‘At Coles, this has resulted in disruptions to deliveries from our suppliers, which in turn has impacted the availability of some products in our stores. While our team are working hard to get stock back onto our shelves, we expect it will take several weeks to fully recover.’
The supermarket is also hiring more staff and working with suppliers to improve product availability with shoppers urged to consider alternative products until stock returns to previous levels.
‘We are hiring additional team members across all parts of our business, and we are fast-tracking the process to get them where they are needed as quickly as possible,’ Mr Cain said.
‘We are working with our suppliers to make it easier for them to provide us with the volume of products our customers need, including by reducing the number of different pack sizes we may range for the same product.
Demand for rapid antigen tests have skyrocketed across the country in the last fortnight
‘We’re asking customers to bear with us and be flexible for now by trying a different brand or product until we can get the entire range back into stores.
‘We understand that this is a difficult time for many Australians, and we ask that you please continue to be respectful of our team members, who are now commencing their third year responding to the pandemic as essential workers.’
More than 147,000 new cases have been recorded so far on Thursday across Australia.
More than 92,260 were recorded in NSW, including a backlog of registered positive RAT results dating back to January 1.
NSW has also recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic with 22 deaths while Victoria added 25 to its death toll.
Coles has placed a one pack per customer on rapid antigen test kits (pictured) until they become more available