'This is mental': Aldi Special Buy photo sparks social distancing outrage

A snap of Aldi customers queuing to get their hands on a cult Special Buy item has sparked concern that social distancing has gone out the window.

The store’s $25 cast iron Crofton cooking range hit shelves this morning to the delight of kitchen enthusiasts looking for a bargain.

The range is widely considered a budget version, or ‘dupe’, of $400 French brand Le Creuset, and is wildly popular among shoppers for its cheap price tag and five-year warranty but scenes this morning had people concerned that scooping up a good deal was more important than maintaining coronavirus hygiene in stores.

Image of shoppers lining up at Abbotsford Aldi to buy Le Creuset cookware
A line outside of Aldi in Abbotsford sparked serious concern among shoppers. Photo: Supplied

Photo of mammoth queue prompts outrage

One photo shared to Facebook by a Melbourne shopper sparked particularly heated backlash over the number of people queuing outside the store ahead of opening.

Taken at the Abbotsford store in Victoria, the photo showed a throng of people waiting to enter the store, and another revealed the line snaked through the shopping centre for some distance.

The shopper tells Yahoo Lifestyle she had never seen so many people waiting for a Special Buy before.

“I arrived at 8:25 thinking that would be enough time but have never seen the Abbotsford store with a line that big before,” she said.

The stores open at 8:30 and the line seemed to have been well established beforehand.

She says she thought social distancing was being observed quite well, but online users were shocked at the sight, arguing it was ‘irresponsible’ to allow so many people to crowd together during the pandemic.

Online users say Special Buy frenzy ‘irresponsible’

Image of Crofton Le Creuset dupe cast iron dutch oven
The Crofton range is wildly popular, but some argue the enthusiasm could be a health risk. Photo: Aldi

“Aldi really need to extend their social distancing markers to outside their store, because clearly people AREN’T getting it,” one person wrote.

“Can't believe how people are already standing close together,” another agreed. “Is it really worth the risk for a pot?”

“This is mental,” another agreed.

Some went so far as to suggest Aldi should discontinue Special Buys if it posed such a potential risk to public health.

“It’s becoming really irresponsible of Aldi to continue with their Special Buys if they are not going to ensure proper social distancing for the people who line up to get in,” the person wrote.

“Imagine if a new cluster started in an Aldi because of a cheap pot.”

“So much for social distancing,” another bemoaned.

Line of people wait fro Aldi Crofton Le Creuset Special Buy
Another photo showed the same store's line snake through the shopping centre. Photo: Supplied/ Vivian Trieu

Another woman who visited a different Aldi reported a frenzied scene.

“I was surprised at how people ran to get those pots!” she wrote, adding her supermarket imposed a two-person limit to keep stock flowing.

An Aldi spokesperson has previously confirmed to Yahoo Lifestyle that each store is free to implement product limits but it is not the companies policy to enforce limits across the board.

The photo at the centre of the scandal, however, was apparently deceiving, with the photographer telling Yahoo Lifestyle that most were indeed following social distancing at the time.

Special Buys spark controversy for Aldi

Image of Aldi store where Special Buys have prompted outrage during social distancing
Aldi has come under fire for Special Buy controversies in the past. Photo: Getty Images

It comes after shoppers became outraged at a different photo from the supermarket this week, after an irate mum shared a surreptitious photo she captured of a man snapping up not five, but six of this week’s Stand Mixer Special Buys to an Aldi Facebook group.

It’s hardly a new issue for Aldi who have previously been blasted for unregulated Special Buys sales which have seen shops rushed and people hurt as shoppers scramble to get their hands on the latest budget buy.

The store’s famous dupe of high-end beauty brand La Prarie, called Caviar Cream, is a famous example of when the sales seekers got way out of hand.

Stores reported selling out in under three minutes and photos and video showed mad scenes unfolding in the Special Buy aisles in one sale last year.

Now it seems the cookware is giving the beauty dupe a run for its money, though as many pointed out, at potentially too high a cost.

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