Early rise for stocking up

WITH supermarket shelves laying bare due to "panic buying", Marie Iannacone is stocking up to ensure she can feed her children and grandchildren at Easter.

Major supermarkets in Swan Hill are introducing new trading hours and an allocated time for elderly shoppers and people with disabilities to shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-hour sessions at Coles and Woolworths will continue daily between 7am and 8am until further notice.

Woolworths trading hours have been reduced to 8am to 8pm seven days a week, during weekdays for Coles and 7am to 8pm for Coles on weekends.

Ms Iannacone lives in Kyabram, but is splitting her time in Swan Hill, where her 88-year-old mother lives.

"I'm stocking up for myself and my mum," Ms Iannacone said.

"My mum's been living with me the past four months.

"We spend a few days at my house and a few days at her house."

Ms Iannacone said she was stocking up on food so she could feed her two daughters and five grandchildren at Easter time.

In Coles across the country, an extra 5000 casual staff members are being employed to keep up with shopper demand.

Community hour was introduced to provide better access for the elderly and vulnerable.

These sessions are available to Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Companion Card and Health Care Card holders.

Coles chief executive officer Steven Cain said the sessions were introduced because all Australians deserve the right to access grocery items.

"We urge customers to shop as they normally would to ensure that everyone in the community has access to their share of grocery items," he said.

"We will continue to look at a range of options to support our customers including working with our charity partners like Foodbank to deliver staple items to Australians in need, and further restrictions on products in limited supply to prevent over-purchasing."

The Swan Hill branch of Coles has also suspended their Click&Collect service.

Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said while they continued to best stock their stores, elderly customers were missing out on the essential items.

Ms Peters said the dedicated hour would give them, and people with a disability the chance to shop before stores officially opened.

"Helping them obtain the ​essential ​items they need most in a less crowded environment," she said.

"We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time.

"Now — more than ever — we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable."