Kmart has apologised to fans after frustrated shoppers began sharing photos of empty shelves on social media, after the retailer revealed they wouldn't be able to restock until July.
Much of the stock is made in China and therefore has been unable to ship to Australia due to the coronavirus pandemic.
One person wrote on Kmart's Facebook page they were shocked after their recent visit to the store because of the lack of items on shelves, “Went to a store yesterday for a browse after a two month iso. Was gobsmacked at all the empty homewares shelves. Highlights how much stock comes from [overseas].”
Now, John Gualtieri, the Retail Director of Kmart Australia and New Zealand, has issued an apology via email saying the retailer is "so sorry to disappoint" customers who are unable to find what they're looking for.
He wrote, "You may have noticed (or heard) about some of the stock impacts we're experiencing here at Kmart; and I wanted to take the opportunity to address this topic head-on; answering some of the frequently asked questions I'm hearing, whilst giving our Kmart communities as much transparency as possible about stock availability, both instore and online."
Gualtieri continued, saying that when coronavirus first became an issue in Australia, demand "softened", so the company made a decision to "pause inventory shipments".
He added that many retailers across the country took this same approach and added, "With so much uncertainty around public health and safety; and such severe outbreaks of Covid-19 being reported in places like Italy, Spain and New York, we prepared for similar restrictions here in Australia. Some of the countries where we manufacture our physical products were also put into lockdown at this time, putting production of some of our goods on hold for a period of time."
The retail director then said that Kmart was very "privileged" to be able to keep their doors open during the lockdown period.
He continued, "We've seen Australian families really adapt to this new way of life at home and their purchasing behaviour has certainly reflected this. With more interest in household items that help keep you working, keep you active, keep your little ones stimulated, and keep your families entertained in the kitchen.
"This interest has in turn, resulted in increased demand for product categories like home office, fitness, cookware, games and books (just to name a few!). Our teams have been busy working behind the scenes to get these popular products back on the shelves. Working closely with our partners and suppliers to pull orders forward to help meet this increased demand."
"The good news is that these products have started to arrive back in store and online; and we'll be receiving weekly deliveries over the next few months. We expect stock levels to normalise by the end of July 2020."
He then provided timings on when things will get back to normal:
Home Office - mid July
Furniture & Accessories - mid to end July
Kitchen & Dining - mid July
Nursery - end June
Bikes & Exercise Equipment - end July
Gualtieri finished, "We understand how frustrating it can be when you visit us instore and can't find the items you love; and we are so sorry to disappoint. We are working as fast as we can to correct this. I would like to thank you all for your understanding, patience and ongoing support."
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