A spate of supermarket basket thefts across Hawke's Bay after January's single-use plastic bag ban has left some facing a shortage.

One customer said she was told as many as 285 baskets had gone missing from Pak'nSave in Napier with just 15 left from a pile of about 300 on January 1.

Foodstuffs New Zealand, which owns both Pak'nSave and New World said it was aware there had been basket theft issues in recent weeks.

Head of External Relations Antoinette Laird did not address how many baskets had been stolen since January 1, but wanted to remind shoppers that "stealing store property is a crime".

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She said there were a number of back-up options available in store if shoppers left their reusable bags at home by mistake.

"We advise shoppers that if they can't carry their groceries out to the car on their own, to please ask one of the friendly staff and they would be happy to assist. Likewise, we have two types of trolley for use."

The removal from checkouts at the beginning of this year gives shoppers six months to adjust to shopping with their reusable bags, as all New Zealand retailers are banned from selling or giving them way from July 1.

Laird implored shoppers to "grow into this new habit".

A Countdown spokesperson said since moving away from plastic bags late last year, they're "happy to say that customers seem to be adjusting really well to the change and are mostly bringing their own bags".

"Some stores have had a few teething issues with baskets going missing but we've seen
that settle down as customers are getting into the habit of remembering their bags."

Countdown Napier store manager Philippa Reston said it had been a problem for them in the first few weeks, but it has "eased off".

She estimated they had about 60 baskets and more than 20 had gone missing.

"We lost heaps, but we were kind of prepared for it because we had other stores go live prior to us and they had given us a bit of a heads up that might occur."

In preparation the store ordered extra.

"There re always going to be people out there that wreck it, but everyone else has embraced it ... they know why we've done it and are very positive about the change," Reston said.

A police spokeswoman said it was impossible to know how many supermarket basket theft reports it had received in Hawke's Bay since January 1, as the reports would be coded by offence (i.e. Theft), not the item stolen.