As you would be aware, we are currently experiencing considerable difficulties getting stock to a large number of stores across the State due to the extent of road closures, supply issues and staff shortages. I can assure you, however, that all our teams are working with other major retailers and the Queensland Government on contingency measures to maintain supply of essential provisions to communities across the State by any means possible - including road, sea and air.
In terms of community support, customers are able to make donations to the Salvation Army Flood Appeal at the checkouts at all Woolworths supermarkets, BIG W and Dick Smith stores nationally. Currently $1.5Million has been donated and today, Woolworths announced that we would be matching any customer donation made to the appeal at store until next Thursday 20th of January.
All Woolworths supermarkets in Queensland are currently open with the exception of 13 stores (mainly in Brisbane and Ipswich) which are closed due to power outages and staff shortages. Updated lists of the stores that are closed can be found on the Woolworths supermarket website under the Flood Update Link - http://www.woolworths.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/website/woolworths/about-us/woolworths-news/news-content/001floods
All Woolworths Petrol outlets are open with the exception of four sites. Due to transport and supply shortages, the majority of our outlets are not selling E10 and we are expecting short term shortages of unleaded fuel and LPG at a small number of locations. All BIG W stores are open except for Mt Omaney which is expected to open shortly.
Stores across the State are running very low on fresh food including bread, milk, eggs, meat, poultry and produce. Many supplier production facilities in Queensland are also closed due to flooding, power outages and staff issues and this will cause significant shortages in the coming days.
The major challenge continues to be the delivery of stock throughout central and far north Queensland - the majority of Brisbane metro stores however continue to receive daily deliveries. Woolworths is exploring all opportunities to get stock to store including via alternate road routes and sea. For example, Mt Isa and Cloncurry will now be serviced via Adelaide and Tennant Creek, Weipa will be serviced by barge from Darwin. All other stores to the north and west of Gympie are only receiving sporadic deliveries although the expected opening of the Gympie road route is expected to significantly improve the supply situation to stores in the North.
Woolworths has also been working with the Queensland Government, the Air Force and other major retailers to arrange the airlifting of emergency supplies into isolated areas where stock levels are particularly low. The first airlifts occurred today with essential stock items being airlifted to Townsville from Richmond air base and to Bundaberg from Amberley air base. This emergency stock is being trucked from these hubs to those centres most in need at the current time. We are currently preparing essential stock for air lifts to occur tomorrow as well.
Coastal shipping options are limited given the closure of the Port of Brisbane however Woolworths has arranged to ship stock from Sydney to Townsville (with an expected arrival time of late next week).
While a number of fruit and vegetable lines have been affected by flooding, the Queensland produce season has largely come to an end. We therefore do not expect their to be any broad impact on prices in the short term, but we are concerned about the potential supply challenges in April/May when the Queensland season is due to recommence. In terms of general product pricing, Woolworths will not raise any prices to offset the increased freight costs resulting from the floods.
Customers are stocking up on groceries and this increased demand is putting added pressure on stock availability. We are asking our customers to please be patient and to bear with us while we do our best to restock the shelves.