Kmart says COVID causing empty shelves


Kmart customers are getting increasingly impatient as they wait for the discount department store to get stock on its shelves. 

For weeks the shelves have been practically bare as the firm desperately waits for new stock to arrive from overseas. 

But Kmart has said it's in a bind because coronavirus has slowed down production at factories in China where a large chunk of the chain's goods are manufactured.

Meanwhile, it's been revealed Victorians have been fined for breaking COVID-19 restrictions at almost triple the rate of any other state or territory.

Australia has recorded a total 7241 cases of COVID-19, with 3106 in New South Wales, 1678 in Victoria, 1060 in Queensland, 440 in South Australia, 592 in Western Australia, 228 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 30 in the Northern Territory.

Kmart blames COVID for empty shelves

Discounter Kmart has said manufacturing delays caused by coronavirus are the reason why its shelves are so bare.

For weeks customers have been aghast at the empty stores, stripped of appliances, pillows, kitchenware and electricals.

Kmart says coronavirus has played havoc with its stock levels.

Kmart's design team is in Melbourne but its products are generally sourced from overseas including China, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia among other countries.

Kmart told Channel 7 that low stock levels was because "manufacturing was put on hold" in several countries due to lockdowns.

This week it said it could take until July to get things even close to normal.

Customers have become increasingly frustrated at empty shelve sin Kmart and other retailers.

Some customers have suggested Kmart make more products in Australia. While that should certainly help them get to stores quicker, shoppers would be unlikely to experience the same low prices due to the higher costs of local manufacturing.

More on stock levels here

Courts could take a year to clear

Queensland's judicial system has been buried under a backlog of some 18,000 Magistrate's Court cases which are expected to take a year to clear. The build-up is because the Magistrates Court heavily scaled back operations in mid-March because of coronavirus as jury trials ceased in the Supreme and District Courts.

The Magistrates Courts are due to resume, while a jury trial has been set down for the District Court on June 22, according to correspondence sent to Queensland's legal fraternity.

Several hundred cases are expected to be scheduled for both the Brisbane and Southport Magistrates Court when they return in the coming weeks. Former Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts says the court system is simply a victim of circumstance and has a mountain to climb to clear the backlog.

He says the Magistrates Court usually aims "for a 100 per cent clear-up rate within six months" but that can be expected to double.

"A significant delay has built up and we are going to see these matters ripple through the Magistrates for six to 12 months," he said.

"From having six months to finalise a case it's going to take six months to get them to court." Only one trial is set down in the District Court for the week starting June 22, but two will be scheduled the following week.

Courts have been modified to allow jurors to social distance while a neighbouring courtroom will substitute as the jury room.


Victorians most likely to get COVID fines

Victoria's hefty coronavirus fines have sparked calls for a closer look at where the penalties were issued, with claims that lower socio-economic areas are being hit harder.

Victorians have been fined for breaking coronavirus restrictions at almost triple the rate of any other state or territory.

In a report submitted to the state parliament's COVID-19 inquiry this week, Victoria Police revealed 590 fines for breaking social distancing rules were issued in the greater Melbourne area around the CBD between March 21 and May 17.

Greater Dandenong had the second most fines at 333, while 297 fines were issued in lower socio-economic Frankston and the Police Accountability Project wants a closer look at the data.

"We think it is crucial to be able to further analyse why an area like Dandenong which ranks second in the state for low socio-economic indicators whilst recording 333 fines has only had 18 confirmed cases of COVID," they said in a statement.

"An affluent area like Stonington ranking third-highest in the same socio- economic data was only issued 82 fines but recorded 94 confirmed cases." Fines, however, are imposed for breaching restrictions regardless of an infection rate.

Affluent areas like Yarra and the Mornington Peninsula were also heavily sanctioned, with 287 fines in the City of Yarra and 203 on the peninsula.

Since late March, Victoria Police have had the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1652 to individuals breaching the chief health officer's directives. About 5600 people have received fines totalling more than $8 million.


Originally published as Kmart says COVID causing empty shelves