Supermarket company Woolworths has warned the Victorian government that stores could face stock shortages before Christmas if strict restrictions restricting its supply chain are not relaxed.
Woolworths CEO Brad Panducci warned the government that shoppers could go between stores to find the items they need due to a shortage of products in a store, which contradicts the prime minister’s goal of reducing mobility during epidemics.
Mr Panducci’s comments came in a roundtable with about 100 businesses with the state government, which was held Wednesday night by the Australian Business Council.
Woolworths stock availability is not an issue, but logistics issues due to capacity-constricting restrictions on distribution centers and warehouses can affect stores’ ability to receive products when demand is at its peak during the Christmas season.
This can lead to shortages in many stores as customers shop to find what they need.
In a statement, Mr Banduci said Wolworths acknowledged the “unique challenge” facing Victoria and appreciated their open dialogue with the government throughout the epidemic.
“We are working to support the government’s over-health goal of reducing social movements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
“As part of this, we share data-driven motivations regarding anticipated shopping behavior ahead of the busy Christmas season, which helps inform policy policy related to our distribution.
Woolworths will be committed to working closely with the government, helping to minimize social movement as much as possible, while ensuring Victorians have access to their essential needs in a govtcef environment this Christmas.
It is understood that the supermarket company is arguing for the 100 per cent supply chain cap to be withdrawn soon, and it is likely that individual stores will face stock shortages in some products in the coming months, peaking as seen during the panic purchases in March and April.
In the round table Woolworths shares modeling on the lack of impact on individual stores in broader social movements based on shopping behavior from March and April.
Woolworths has more than five million customers a week on its more than 600 sites in Victoria.
The state government introduced stricter restrictions in early August to stem Victoria’s second wave, cutting supply and warehousing business by a third.