Discount department store K Mart is under fire for selling fake tan and bath slime as essential items but not children's winter woolies.

A Christchurch woman, who only wanted to be known as Ajay, said she was able to find bath fizz, a manicure buffer set and a face mask on the K Mart online list of essential items, but no leggings for her 21-month-old daughter.

"They need to prioritise what are essential items heading into winter. If K Mart is going to have a warehouse open to provide essential services don't have staff working willy nilly so someone can have a face mask," she said.

Several people have posted similar thoughts on the K Mart Facebook page.

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Fake tan offered as 'essential' items at Kmart.
Fake tan offered as 'essential' items at Kmart.

"I don't understand how fake tan and hair dye are essential items and kids winter clothing isn't," said Kahli McCullough.

"I can buy my kids bath slime, but not warm pyjamas," said Ains Clark.

A KMart spokeswoman said in a statement the company was pleased to have its New Zealand online operation back and supporting customers, saying in line with new Government requirements it had adapted the site to feature essential items where customers can access products to help families keep warm, buy key household appliances and maintain their health and wellbeing.

Glitter Slime is on offer at Kmart.
Glitter Slime is on offer at Kmart.

"We are constantly listening to our customers and will continue to evolve our online offering with essential products they need and like other retailers, modify the product range based on the requirements set out by MBIE to ensure we can offer our customers everyday items, during a time they need it most," she said.

The spokeswoman thanked people for their support and encouraged anyone with questions to contact the customer service centre between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, on 0800 945 995.

The complaints follow a relaxing of the rules by the Government four days ago to allow the likes of The Warehouse, Noel Leeming, Briscoes and Mitre 10 to sell essential goods, such as heaters, whiteware and computers.


The decision was made in recognition of the need for people to safely isolate, stay connected to one another and work or study from home.

The Warehouse, which proclaimed itself an essential service at the start of the four-week lockdown as it was a provider of "essential" consumer goods and then had to close its doors, is back up and running under the latest rules.

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In a message on its website today, The Warehouse said it is experiencing high demand for essential items, working hard to get these back in stock and apologises if people's first choice is not available.

The notice comes as Mitre 10 launched its online home delivery service today for essential goods.

Key products include heaters, dehumidifiers, light bulbs and globes, hand tools, padlocks, firewood, batteries, sealants and silicones, work boots and gumboots, work wear, torches, spouting, down pipes, smoke alarms, child safety items, and small household appliances.

NeedToKnow3

Businesses are only permitted to sell products online. Supermarkets, dairies and pharmacies remain open and have controls in place for customers to stick to the two-metre physical separation rule.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in order to protect public safety there will be conditions around the selling of items by businesses.

Businesses must operate responsibly and only make available for sale genuine essential goods - goods that are necessities of life while ensuring restriction of movement of people and workers to combat Covid-19.

The public must responsibly purchase only those items that are absolutely necessary to facilitate life and work during the lockdown period.

In order to be able to sell these essential goods, businesses must:
• Only take orders online or by phone and keep storefronts shut.
• Take orders for only essential non-food goods.
• Home deliver all essential goods in a contactless way and not allow people to visit stores to select or collect goods.
• Take all appropriate public health measures to protect their staff and customers (eg physical distancing, hygiene basics, appropriate personal protective equipment).
• Notify MBIE that they meet these conditions and intend to offer essential goods for sale and provide a list of those products.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is setting up a website for Kiwi to raise concerns about supermarket price rises during the coronavirus lockdown.

MBIE has warned if businesses can't meet these conditions they should not offer to sell essential goods while the country is at alert level 4.

"If businesses are too generous in their interpretation of what is 'essential' or flout these rules, Government will take further action."

Essential goods are those that will keep people warm (heaters, blankets), replace key household appliances, and maintain people's health. Examples of essential products are blankets, fridges, heaters and computers or tablets to work from home or do distance learning, or simply connect with people.

"If people can't buy these, then we risk people venturing out of their homes more often," MBIE said.

An MBIE spokesman said it was not able to answering questions relating to individual products or retailers as its teams are prioritising questions and scenarios from businesses at this time.

"Any business that is offering essential consumer products must register with MBIE and inform us of their product offering. We will take up any concerns with the businesses at the time of registration. Where businesses take a judgment that is wider than those of their products which are genuinely 'essential', Government will take further action.

"We expect businesses to act responsibly in the interests of keeping everyone safe. This includes both businesses and the public making the right calls about what is an essential good," the spokesman said.