14 August 2020
A Covid-19 Update From Our CEO
It’s become clear that COVID is not going away anytime soon and hence at Woolworths, we are focussed on doing everything we can to make being COVIDSafe a part of everyday life, whatever stage of restrictions you are living with.
What we’re doing to help everyone remain COVIDSafe
Please excuse the long list, but ensuring we remain COVIDSafe is all about the detail. A few of our recent innovations include:
- Last week we launched this site, the Woolworths Group COVIDSafe website to provide a central place for you to see everything relating to COVID for all our retail businesses (Woolworths, BIG W, Dan Murphy’s and BWS). As well as practical information and updates (such as social distancing and use of face coverings), it also includes information on broader issues like helping manage mental health, and we’ll keep updating it as we learn more about what’s most useful.
- Almost 100,000 customers have already used Q-Tracker since its launch in June. It allows you to see how busy a store is almost in real-time (it’s updated every 5 minutes), and when the busiest times normally are. In over 40 Melbourne stores you can also use it to ‘book your shop’ in advance so you won't have to wait to enter.
- To help with communicating alerts and contact tracing, you’ll start to see posters with a QR Code (a square black and white pattern) as you enter our stores. We’d encourage you to scan the code with the camera on your phone to check in (similar to cafes and restaurants). It has now launched in Victoria, NSW, ACT & Tasmania, with other states and territories to follow. When you scan, we’ll only share information with the health authorities for contact tracing if they ask, and to let you know if you shopped the day a confirmed case was advised to be in store.
- It is important to reinforce that social distancing and good hand hygiene continue to be the key. We’d also encourage you to wear a face covering whenever you come into one of our stores. They are of course mandatory in Victoria and we also strongly encourage you to wear them in NSW, ACT, and in Queensland hotspot areas. We’ve asked the same of our team.
Plus we keep innovating and there are lots of other interesting things in pilot. We’ll keep you posted on these as they become reality.
Showing our support for Victoria
This week we introduced the “Woolworths Basics Shop” in selected Victorian postcodes. Building on what we learnt from our Woolworths Basic Box, these are 3 grocery “bundles” for vulnerable customers, including the elderly, people living with disability, compromised immunity, or anyone in mandatory isolation. The three bundles are intended to provide more than a week’s worth of supplies and are Woolworths Chilled Basics ($42), Woolworths Fresh Basics ($43) and Woolworths Grocery Basics ($57).
They can be ordered by or on behalf of someone in a vulnerable position for contactless next-day delivery in selected locations (for orders placed before 4pm), either through an easy process online at woolworths.com.au/basics or by calling us on 1800 000 610.
Also a reminder that all our online shopping is contactless, whether with Delivery or Pick up. In Victoria we have now extended contactless Drive Thru Pick up (with groceries direct to your boot) to another 28 Supermarkets, making a total of 104 in the state.
And while we have unfortunately had to close 22 BIG W stores in metro Melbourne during Stage 4 lockdown, you can still shop online. You can now choose our new Drive up Pick up service, picking up your BIG W purchases from collection points outside the store. Plus for all Victorian customers, we’re also offering free home delivery for orders over $40 at BIG W during the lockdown.
Supporting our team
We are deeply appreciative of our team members at the frontline during this crisis, whether in our stores, distribution centres, online hubs or out making deliveries.
We have had a number of our team across Melbourne in isolation over the last few weeks having tested positive for COVID. We are thankful that, at the time of writing, many have recovered or are recovering well. We are doing a number of things to support our team, including special payments for any team members impacted by testing, isolation or for other COVID-related time off work. For any team or family members reading this note and wanting more information, please head to our support hub.
We’re also pleased to welcome Dr Rob McCartney to the Woolworths Group as our inaugural Chief Medical Officer. This will be a key role in helping us navigate how we operate our business in a COVID world, and of course to support us in keeping our teams, customers and supplier partners safe.
What are customers buying?
With us all continuing to spend more time at home, cooking, cleaning and baking continue to keep us occupied (and entertained?).
The home baker trend is continuing: we’re seeing lots of customers making their own bread at home, buying 850,000kg of additional flour and 55,000kg of yeast enough to bake 1.7m loaves of bread. Brown sugar is also up by 280,000kg year-on-year, enough for more than 1,000,000 chocolate cakes, plus 116,000kg of icing sugar, enough to ice 600,000 cakes.
I am relieved to be able to say that sales of toilet paper are very stable but as expected, cleaning and hygiene products continue to grow, with surface wipes up more than 400% and gloves up 300%.
Unfortunately, we have had issues with meat and chicken availability in Victoria, following impacts to our supply chains following tighter COVID restrictions. Despite this, we’ve been able to use our national network to help smooth out supply and this means that towards the weekend stock levels will start to improve, especially for poultry.
Charity support for those in need
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has donated to the causes we partner with. That includes our FareShare Feed Appeal, which this year has already raised enough to help provide more than 800,000 free meals to vulnerable Australians and Share the Dignity who are helping Australian women facing period poverty, which has sadly seen a 54% increase in requests since the outbreak of COVID.
Are You Okay?
I am aware of the challenges of keeping my own energy levels up as COVID goes from a sprint to a marathon, and I am sure many of you feel likewise. While the media headlines are focused on case numbers and community transmissions, we should not forget the hidden toll this pandemic is having on the collective mental health in our communities. It is more important than ever to look out for ourselves and each other, and as a business, we will continue to explore ways to make sure we’re playing our part and providing the support that's needed leveraging our “I Am Here” mental wellbeing program.
CEO Woolworths Group
For the latest updates and details of our online shopping options (including Delivery, Pick up, Priority Assistance and Community Pick up), see our Woolworths website.