Posted on January 11, 2024

Woolworths Dumps All Australia Day Merchandise From Stores Nationally

Brett Lackey, Daily Mail, January 9, 2024

Woolworths will no longer sell Australia Day merchandise.

The supermarket giant, which also owns Big W stores, confirmed in a statement that any items related to January 26 celebrations will not be stocked on shelves.

‘There has been a gradual decline in demand for Australia Day merchandise from our stores over recent years. At the same time there’s been broader discussion about 26 January and what it means to different parts of the community.’

The retailer added: ‘We know many people like to use this day as a time to get together and we offer a huge variety of products to help customers mark the day as they choose.

‘Woolworths and BIG W celebrate the best of Australia every day, and we’re proud to support the farmers, producers, and suppliers who work with us.’

Kmart made a similar announcement in 2023, but Coles will continue to sell Australia Day merchandise.

‘We are stocking a small range of Australian-themed summer entertaining merchandise throughout January which is popular with our customers for sporting events such as the cricket and tennis, as well as for the Australia Day weekend,’ a Coles spokesperson said.

The Woolworths-owned My Deal online marketplace will sell Australia Day-themed items via third party sellers.

Australia Day, observed each year on January 26, marks the landing of the First Fleet in 1788 when the first governor of the British colony of New South Wales, Arthur Philip, hoisted the Union Jack at Sydney Cove.

But, for many First Nations people, it is regarded as ‘Invasion Day’ or the ‘Day of Mourning’.

The growing uneasiness around the national holiday is perhaps best summed up by the government-owned National Australia Day Council.

‘For some, Australia Day is a day to celebrate all the opportunities provided by living in a free, multicultural society,’ it wrote in its 2022 annual report.

‘For others it is a chance to reflect on their own citizenship and what it means to be Australian. And for many, 26 January represents a day of sadness, mourning and reminder of colonisation.’

One shopper from Queensland who was trying to buy some January 26 supplies said on social media they had called six supermarkets in their area and none were stocking anything linked to Australia Day because they ‘didn’t want to upset anyone’.

Other people pointed out much of the merchandise is made in China but nevertheless took aim at Woolworths saying removing the items is ‘un-Australian’.

‘Absolutely appalled at this decision,’ one shopper said.

‘Bye bye Woolworths,’ agreed another.

‘We Australians have no say about that but we do have a say about where we shop. Bad move Woolworths,’ added a third.

‘So now we’re being made to feel ashamed to be Australian,’ said a fourth.

‘I have also noticed that it is only a couple of weeks away and I have not seen one city announce their Australia Day celebrations,’ another said.

Many local councils across the country have scrapped Australia Day celebrations as the date becomes increasingly controversial.

In December, Anthony Albanese’s High Commissioner to the UK jettisoned his annual Australia Day fundraising event citing ‘cultural sensitivities’.

In recent years Invasion Day protests have overshadowed any festivities.

Thousands have turned out at rallies in major cities demanding the date be changed.

Large protests are also expected this year after the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the constitution was voted down in October.