UPDATE: Coles further restricts purchase of toilet paper
4:10 pm Coles has released a statement reducing the number of toilet roll packs per person to one.
Coles Chief Executive Officer Steven Cain said the new policy ensured all customers would have access to toilet paper.
"Following the unprecedented demand for toilet paper, we reluctantly introduced a temporary 4-pack limit last week. Unfortunately, many stores are still selling out within an hour of delivery," he said.
To compensate, stores are implementing a 1-pack limit per person.
"We have therefore made the decision to change the limit to 1 pack per customer so that toilet paper is available for more of our customers, particularly the elderly and people who are unable to purchase in large volumes.
"We have asked our suppliers to focus on increasing production of larger pack sizes and we are prioritising the delivery of these packs to our stores, as a pack of 30 rolls should last an average family for around 3 weeks.
"We are grateful to our team members and suppliers who are working tirelessly to do the best job possible under the circumstances, and we thank our customers for their understanding and support," he said.
3: 20 pm: The toilet paper crisis gripping Australia has reached new levels, with one man waiting in a queue for almost two hours to buy toilet paper.
Sydney father Irfan Virk found himself waiting in an Aldi checkout queue this morning … for almost two hours.
"I usually shop on Sunday mornings because it's the quietest time. But not today," Mr Virk told news.com.au.
He arrived at Sydney's Winston Hills Mall at 9.00am, 30 minutes after it opened.
"When I walked in hordes of people walking out with packs of toilet roll," he said.
"Within half an hour everything was gone."
Mr Virk left the store a whopping 1.5 hours later, thanks to the queues.
"There were two checkout queues - each queue had at least 20 people."
"It was not just that (toilet paper), all the long-life milk was out, some canned food was gone."
He said he tweeted about the long queue "Not to create alarm, but to ridicule the situation."
"We're just a small family, we hardly use any toilet paper, compared to others.
"People seem to be more panicked than they should be."
150 PEOPLE QUEUE BEFORE 6AM
Eli Richards was down to his last roll of toilet paper Sunday morning so he arrived at his local Coles in Taylors Hill, Melbourne, at 5.50am, ten minutes before it opened.
He was shocked to find he wasn't alone.
"There were a good 150 people there. The queue up was quite extreme," Mr Richards told news.com.au.
"And more people started getting behind me."
Mr Richards said that around 100 people were in front of him in the queue, which meant they would have arrived around at 5.am to get the prime spots.
"I couldn't believe it when I got there," Mr Richards said.
"It was insane."
All week, Australians have been panic buying toilet paper of all things, despite experts warning them that it is an "ill conceived" way to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Today, Coles announced new limitations on toilet paper purchases, which Mr Richards experienced first hand.
"When the doors at six on the dot opened they (staff) made it quite clear: only one pack per customer," he said.
"There was a security guard and a number of staff standing around.
"Some people had grabbed trolleys and others started saying, 'Put your trolleys away, you don't need them'," he said.
Mr Richards likened the situation to a Boxing Day advertisement where customers stream into the shop once it opened.
It was "definitely a stampede," he said.
"We all bee-lined for that aisle."
On Saturday, a fight erupted in a Sydney Woolworths store as shoppers fought over limited toilet paper. The two women have since been charged.
"Luckily, there was no pushing or shoving (this morning)," Mr Richards said.
"We all remained civil."
He grabbed a pack of toilet paper straight off a pallet, which had not yet been unloaded from the delivery.
"If I'd rocked up there at 7.00am it would have been by a different story," he said.
"I doubt there's anything left right now. It's like gold."
"I'm never awake at that time normally - it's a Sunday morning," he said with a laugh.
"The only reason I went is because toilet paper is an essential item. For days and days and days we haven't been able to get it.
"There's a difference between needing it and stockpiling it. I didn't go to stockpile it. I just really needed it. Otherwise I don't know what we would have done."
Mr Richards dubbed his early morning shopping a "reconnaissance mission to get toilet paper".
"All this hysteria has really gotten out of control," he added.