This photograph of empty shelves in the pasta aisle of the South Preston Woolworths supermarket was taken on Sunday 15th March 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It references the panic buying that was happening around the world.

From Australia to Asia and Europe to the USA, consumers stockpiled toilet paper and other products in response to the fear and uncertainty about the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring. The panic buying blitz led to widespread stock shortages, leaving many consumers without household staples for several months, and manufacturers and distributors working around the clock to keep up with demand.

The photographer of this image, Frances Gleeson, was shopping with her sister Angela at Woolworths on Murray Road in South Preston when she took the photo. Aisle 7, featured in this photograph, was stripped almost completely of pasta.

The sisters went shopping at approximately 2:00pm in the afternoon. Angela noted, "I was immediately surprised as I drove into the car park. It was extremely busy, cars everywhere. It was very unusual for a Sunday afternoon shop. We entered the store and there was a shopping frenzy going on. Shoppers' trolleys were overflowing with goods. People were quite civilized but just buying up big. We looked at each other and said what is going on. I thought of the old song 'Something in the Air' by Thunderclap Newman - 'Lock up the streets and houses, because there's something in the air.' We had planned to purchase only a few items. Before we knew it we had swapped our basket for a trolley! As you see by the pictures, many of the shelves were already empty at this time especially the essentials."

Frances, who is living and working in Japan, was in Australia visiting her family at the time she took this photograph. She took this photograph to show her friends and students back in Japan. Because of the corona virus pandemic she had to end her trip early to return to Japan and flew out in a rush after her original flight was cancelled and then rescheduled.

Description of Content

Empty shelving in the pasta aisle at a supermarket. A sign is hanging to the right.

Physical Description

Digital colour photograph.

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