Supermarket shelves remain bare of toilet paper and stocks of other staples remain under pressure even as beleaguered suppliers are gradually catching up with runaway demand.
Retailers, manufacturers and transport industry figures report that the production and distribution of food and household goods has ramped up in the face of galloping consumer demand, easing shortfalls across many products.
But persistent shortages of toilet paper indicate many shoppers remain anxious about the supply of basic necessities.
The manager of the IGA O'Connor supermarket, who asked to be identified as Tony, said the supply of goods was gradually improving, but there was still panic buying going on, particularly of toilet paper.
"In terms of toilet paper, demand is still outstripping supply by a long shot. When it gets on the shelves it doesn't last at all," Tony said.
Though shoppers were abiding by pack limits, the trade was currently stuck in a "vicious circle", he said.
"People notice that the shelves are empty [so] then when they notice that toilet paper is there they are just going to go for it because they don't know the next time they are going to see it," he said.
Brendan Irvine, manager of Red Hill SupaExpress, said the issue with toilet paper was "a sheer supply chain challenge" because of limits in the volumes of stock that could be transported around.
Trucks can typically carry 22 pallets of goods, and while a single pallet could contain 1000 units of cans of tuna it could only fit 100 units of toilet paper, Mr Irvine said.
Wholesaler Metcash, which owns the IGA brand, supplies independent supermarkets in Canberra from its giant Huntingwood warehouse in western Sydney.
Toilet paper produced, for example, at paper products giant Kimberley-Clark's South Australian plant, may be transported to Melbourne and then on to Sydney before being sent to Canberra stores.
Mr Irvine said the Huntingwood warehouse had been doing its "absolute best" to cope with the huge spike in demand that followed the sudden imposition of social distancing restrictions, and had gone from being two days behind on deliveries two weeks ago to now being "right on top of it".
This was apparent in the improved flow of goods.
Mr Irvine said that on March 27 his store received just 26 packs of toilet paper. This increased to 33 packs on Monday, 84 on Wednesday and 100 on Friday.
The supply problem had been exacerbated by automated ordering systems, he added.
"A lot of us run on auto order systems, our warehouses run on auto order systems, which predict what customers are going to do. [The huge spike in demand two weeks ago] was obviously very unpredictable," he said.
While most store shelves are empty of toilet paper, the rush on other staples such as pasta, flour and rice appears to be fading, helped by a steady increase in supply.
A spokesperson for supermarket giant Coles said that,"after an incredibly busy period, our stores now have more stock on display for customers and there are signs that the demand is beginning to slow".
The Coles spokesperson said fewer shoppers were over-stocking and that, combined with increased supplies, purchase limits, reduced hours of trade, more staff and the relaxation of truck curfews, was helping to ease the pressure on supply chains.
But a Woolworths spokesperson warned that although product availability was improving, "we still have more work to do after weeks of unprecedented demand".
"Our teams and suppliers continue to work round the clock to replenish stock levels across our stores," the spokesperson said, noting that demand had moderated last weekend and customers were abiding by purchasing limits.
Parts of the trucking industry have also been sent into overdrive by the shopping frenzy.
Australian Trucking Association chief executive officer Ben Maguire said the unexpected spike in demand had stretched sectors such as food transport.
"People in the food business are experiencing Christmas-type levels of demand," Mr Maguire said. "Some fleets on the Sydney-Melbourne food corridor have seen a doubling of demand".
But he said backlogs and delays that had appeared in the early stages of the crisis were being ironed out through changes such as the lifting of delivery curfews, streamlined controls at interstate borders and the recruitment of more drivers from areas such as tourism.
Some manufacturers, meanwhile, have boosted production.
Paper products major Kimberley-Clark said it had team working "around the clock" and was making additional deliveries in order to meet the surge in demand for toilet paper, tissues and other products.
After an initial run on paper towels, Mr Irvine said demand had eased enough to ensure sufficient supply, helped by reduced shopper fears of a shortage.
"As soon as the paper towel shelf was filled two weeks ago, we haven't had an empty shelf since.
"We are still selling way more paper towel than usual but with the full shelf there is not the same urgency [among shoppers]."
Mr Irvine hopes the same may eventually happen regarding toilet paper, though he warns it may take up to three months for the situation to ease.
"If we can just get full shelves of toilet paper I think it will end the challenge overnight.
'[But] this has gone on way longer than I thought it would."
Demand has also surged for other goods, including food.
Mr Irvine said sales of fresh milk had doubled, and purchases of fresh bread and fruit and vegetables including kale, broccoli and fresh orange juice were up significantly, but supplies had ramped up in response and were "not an issue at all".
After a frenetic March, IGA O'Connor manager Tony senses that the period of panic buying may be passing.
"We are hoping that in the very near future that it gets back to normal," he said.
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