A Hamilton mother-of-five says she was left feeling embarrassed after a quick top-up shop raised questions about whether she was panic buying.

In the South Island, an Ashburton mum with nine children was so mortified that a staff member told her to put some items back that she left her trolleys at the checkout and walked out.

The Hamilton woman had popped into New World Hillcrest early this week to buy a few items for her young family.

She bought a box of nappies for her baby, two packets of nappies for her toddler, two loaves of bread, a bottle of milk, carpet stain remover, two packets of M&Ms, a roast chicken and three packets of rice crackers.

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But when she got to the check-out she was taken back when the operator asked a man - who she assumed was the manager - whether it was classed as panic buying.

The manager gave her purchases the okay and she was able to buy her items. She said it wasn't even her weekly shop as she already had her meat and vegetables at home.

But the woman said she was left feeling shocked and really embarrassed. She said none of the items she bought were being restricted.

"I felt like walking out, it made me feel so bad."

She posted her experience on her Facebook page and said it seemed she wasn't the only one who had been made to feel bad for providing basic food for their kids.

She said she would now go back to buying her groceries online if that was how she was going to be treated.

A Foodstuffs spokesperson said they were terribly sorry to hear the customer felt this way after visiting the store.

While stores might have different restrictions in place on certain products, staff used their best judgment to determine if or when a customer might be buying more than what was necessary so they could politely ask them to refrain.

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"The reason being is that stockpiling puts unnecessary strain on the supply chain and limits availability for other shoppers."

But the Ashburton mother said supermarkets were becoming over the top and she ended up ditching her two trolley loads of food at Countdown Ashburton last Tuesday when the checkout operator told her to put some items back.

Is this mother-of-five's top up grocery shop panic buying? Photo / Supplied
Is this mother-of-five's top up grocery shop panic buying? Photo / Supplied

"She said this was an obsession and I shouldn't be spending this much on food and I needed to put back some of the bulk stuff that I had bought.

"I said to her: 'This is not bulk stuff. This is my weekly shop. If you saw my cupboards you would understand that'."

But the supermarket worker replied that two trolleys was beyond a joke.

"I just left my trolleys and walked out. I thought I'm not doing this - I can't."

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Instead she drove 100km to Pak'nSave in Christchurch to do her weekly shop. This week she plans to take all nine of her children with her to justify the grocery shop.

"It's like do I have to show you this is my family and this is why I have such a big grocery shop. It is just horrible."

The woman, who usually spends $700 a week on food to feed her large family, said the supermarket chains need to have a blanket rule on what was classed as excessive buying rather than it differing from each store.

Focus Live: There are no new coronavirus cases in New Zealand today, with the total remaining at eight.

She usually buys her groceries online but said it was too difficult at the moment as there were too many items out of stock.

Countdown Ashburton South's store manager Mandy Manpreet apologised for any frustration or embarrassment caused to the customer.

Manpreet said stores were really busy as they managed the increasing demand, but workers had been reminded that they did not have to intervene on what people were buying unless there were limits on them. Restricted items included paracetamol, hand sanitiser and Dettol products.

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A Foodstuffs spokesperson said the staff member had been overzealous trying to adhere to the rules and confirmed there were only restrictions on certain items, of which these were not.