COVID-lockdown panic buying sets in across Canberra, toilet paper the first target

Lottie Twyford 12 August 2021 41
Coles Woden

Canberrans rushed to the supermarkets despite being told that supermarkets will remain open throughout the lockdown. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

Canberrans have been urged not to panic buy in response to the seven-day lockdown which commenced at 5:00 pm this afternoon (12 August).

Despite this, images from various locations around Canberra have shown scenes of illegal parking as consumers rushed to their local shops, extensive queues inside and outside supermarkets, and supermarket shelves being stripped bare of bread, toilet paper and milk.

At Westfield Woden, a security and police presence was visible by mid-afternoon.

In both Woolworths and Coles supermarkets, the queues of shoppers snaked down and around almost every single aisle.

Those at the front of the line told Region Media they had already been waiting for upwards of half an hour.

Upon being questioned, shoppers reported only being in the supermarkets to purchase what they needed for the evening or their “normal groceries”. However, almost every second trolley or basket contained a packet of toilet paper and the toilet paper shelves in Coles at Woden were almost bare within hours of the lockdown announcement.

All shoppers seemed calm and only wanted to get to the front of the queue in a reasonable time.

READ ALSO: Lockdown 2.0: Students urged to stay home for a week due to COVID lockdown

One woman said she needed to stock up as she was preparing to have her grandchildren at home and had originally gone in to purchase dinner supplies.

“I’m not overdoing it as I don’t want to make things worse, but the way everybody has come out like this is extremely concerning. This isn’t much fun for anybody,” she said.


The queue at Costco around an hour after today’s news that the ACT would be going into lockdown. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

She also reported being unsure about arrangements for children over the next week, but hoped the lockdown would not last any longer than that.

Upon being asked, most shoppers said they weren’t overly concerned about not being able to purchase food tomorrow.

READ MORE: Lockdown 2.0: Students urged to stay home for a week due to COVID lockdown

Many shoppers were already wearing masks; however, many were not and social distancing was virtually impossible in the busy supermarkets.

Similar scenes have been reported on social media at supermarkets at Dickson, Erindale and Wanniassa, Curtin and the Canberra Centre, and Costco at Majura Park.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Hour-long supermarket lines as Canberra goes into COVID lockdown, Chief Minister says health risk ‘significant’

Farrah’s Liquor Collective owner Matt Farrah said things had gone absolutely crazy ever since the news came out this morning.

“As soon as people knew, things have been out of control with both online and in-store orders,” he said.

At this point, Matt said customers were calm, and everybody had smiles on their faces despite knowing they were about to go into lockdown.

Liquor stores are remaining open throughout the lockdown, including Farrah’s, and deliveries would continue.

In response to the panic, Woolworths Australia has introduced limits on toilet paper in the ACT.

Individual customers can now purchase a maximum of two packs per customer, per shop, in line with current interstate restrictions.

The company issued a statement in which they pleaded with customers only to buy what they needed.

Coles has not yet updated their advice on product restrictions.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has urged Canberrans to remember that supermarkets and other essential services will remain open during the lockdown.

“Like every other jurisdiction has had to do, we need to remind you that supermarkets will remain open. Grocery shopping will continue to be allowed during the lockdown. There is no need for panic buying, and our key message to people is to please be patient, be kind with one another, and be thoughtful.”

Keep up to date with the latest health advice from the ACT Government at

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41 Responses to COVID-lockdown panic buying sets in across Canberra, toilet paper the first target
Timmy Holness Timmy Holness 3:38 am 14 Aug 21

But what is the science behind this pact like mentality?

Why do people turn from grasshoppers to locust? It’s very interesting as a human condition

    Bizi Kat Bizi Kat 7:21 am 14 Aug 21

    Hi Timmy, I think it has to do with scared people who need to exercise some control of the situation. Evolutionary imperative to survive in a challenging environment.

    Timmy Holness Timmy Holness 7:33 am 14 Aug 21

    Bizi Kat oh absolutely that. What’s interesting is the same goods around the world are being targeted. Copious amounts of toilet

    Paper to me doesn’t make sense because statically you’ll end up at the shop within 5 days if you life in an urban environment. But I guess people ‘panic’ don’t think straight and just follow what others have purchased. Thanks for the response though as it’s much better than the usual troll’s opinion. Stay safe and have a great day

Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 3:16 pm 13 Aug 21

Absolute stupidity in Belconnen Mall. Panic buying very obvious!

whatwik whatwik 2:13 pm 13 Aug 21

Activity at our local supermarket had subsided appreciably by mid afternoon yesterday (when I returned to pick up scripts from the nearby pharmacy) ; noticed that while bread and milk were scarce, there were er, piles of toilet paper available, as was the case for almost all of last year’s ‘lockdown’.

‘Panic buying’ makes for good headlines though, as did the national capital conveniently waking to a gloomy, foggy first day of lockdown – which we all know didn’t take too long at all to lift to a gorgeous day. Hope you all got your washing on the line!

jwinston jwinston 10:57 am 13 Aug 21

ACT number plates seen as far south as Cooma panic buying. Canberra – you can officially get off your high horse!

Kim Gower Kim Gower 10:34 am 13 Aug 21

Too many people out yesterday, went to Woolworths this morning no crowds shelves all full, panic buying is just that and not COVID safe 🤦‍♀️

Heavs Heavs 9:21 am 13 Aug 21

“Look at all these people irresponsibly panic buying at the supermarket – look at my picture of them, what idiot sheep” says person irresponsibly panic buying at supermarket

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 3:53 pm 13 Aug 21

    LOL, Heavs – you definitely have a valid point there

Oh my God Oh my God 8:56 am 13 Aug 21

Yep every time there’s a lock down everyone get the pooop so they do emergency run’s to the shop. Something telling me the bottom end is more important than the higher end. Very puzzling???

Cleve Gabriel Cleve Gabriel 2:27 am 13 Aug 21

What’s with the big paper. Don’t understand, the supermarkets will remain open!

Rob Tomsen Rob Tomsen 2:24 am 13 Aug 21

Seriously what is wrong with people. Can’t believe I’m living in Australia anymore. Country is stuffed

Brad Rogers Brad Rogers 1:21 am 13 Aug 21


Karen Feng Karen Feng 11:09 pm 12 Aug 21

I waited 20+ minutes at Woolworth kippax to pay for 1kilo of meat.

......i want to kick myself because since monday i kept saying "I'll do it tomorrow".

I'm hoping the line wont be like that next week.

Natalie Lala Natalie Lala 10:23 pm 12 Aug 21

Just… why 😵‍💫

Coralee Flood Coralee Flood 10:15 pm 12 Aug 21

Numerous superspreading events across the ACT and Queanbeyan today! Thank you very much!

Joseph Ciccarone Joseph Ciccarone 10:04 pm 12 Aug 21

Some of these nuts would not have bought toilet paper because they still reserves from their last toilet paper binge

Margaret Edwards Margaret Edwards 9:47 pm 12 Aug 21

I got mine yesterday. Must have had a premonition.

    AuntieTruda Verkleinern AuntieTruda Verkleinern 10:55 pm 12 Aug 21

    I must have a premonition too but my Purchase yesterday was 3 jigsaw puzzles!

Patrick Rezek Patrick Rezek 9:45 pm 12 Aug 21

Dumb people

Kirsty Noad Kirsty Noad 9:33 pm 12 Aug 21

Grow up!!!

James Thorp James Thorp 9:17 pm 12 Aug 21

Jarred Ranieri Jordan Thurtell big Simon Thorp will have something to say about this

    Jordan Thurtell Jordan Thurtell 9:23 pm 12 Aug 21

    James Thorp “and they think it’s funny”

Na Gema Na Gema 9:02 pm 12 Aug 21

Anyone wearing masks?

Peter Higgins Peter Higgins 8:25 pm 12 Aug 21

Me, in Jindabyne

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