‘Staff in tears’: Heartbreaking reality of special shopping hour
EMPTY shelves, staff in tears and Australia's most vulnerable still left without essentials.
This was the reality of supermarkets' "exclusive" shopping time for the elderly, disabled and their carers this morning.
There was a sea of people gathered around the doors of the Urangan Central Shopping Centre at the crack of dawn today.
People had started to arrive about 6.30am and by the time the store opened for the special one-hour early trading, there was a crowd of more than 200 people waiting in the carpark.
When staff came to open the door, they told residents to have their concession cards ready and to be careful of others.
The store manager warned people violence would not be tolerated.
He also mentioned the store was not fully stocked and there were some items that had already completely sold out.
Just 10 minutes later people, started leaving the store, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Toilet paper had sold out in just minutes and shoppers said the lines to checkout were unfathomably long.Some shoppers who had waited outside left empty-handed, too overwhelmed by the chaos inside.
In Pialba Woolworths, photos taken from inside the supermarket at 7.10am showed barren shelves.
A staff member was reduced to tears as they watched elderly people struggle for groceries.
Another staff member said they had witnessed people bulk buying the night before "to beat the oldies in there."
Bread, meat, fresh fruit and vegetable displays were all but empty.
Toilet paper, dried pasta and canned baked beans had been stripped in the rush.
Some people where angry while others were just trying their best to navigate the mayhem.
It appeared many shoppers had a strategy of running for the toilet paper before returning to the front of the store for a trolley.
One family with a disabled daughter told the Chronicle it was their only opportunity to shop.
"I fly I out for two weeks of work and my wife can't take my daughter out alone," he said.
"We need to get our full fortnightly shop and make it work."