Australia’s favourite supermarket, Aldi, has announced it will not sell Australia Day merchandise ahead of the public holiday later this month.
While the retailer previously stocked a wide range of Australia Day themed goods, known as the Australia Day Special Buys catalogue, it confirmed on Thursday a similar event will not go ahead this year.
Past catalogues to celebrate the day included Australian flag tablecloths, capes, beer cozies and, highly controversially in 2014, a T-shirt that proclaimed: “Australia est. 1788”.
January 26 is considered by many First Nations people and other Australians not to be a day of celebration but rather one of mourning, marking the day the British permanently colonised Australia and thus “invaded” Indigenous land.
Aldi’s announcement comes a day after its competitor Woolworths, which is Australia’s biggest supermarket chain, announced it too won’t sell Australia Day merch.
Woolworths Group, which owns both Woolies and Big W, announced on Wednesday neither chain will stock the products this year due to declining demand and “broader discussions about January 26 and what it means to different parts of the community”.
Big W stocks Australian flags year-round and these will continue to be available.
“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 Group said in a statement.
It means just one of Australia’s three largest supermarket chains will stock Australia Day merchandise this year — and even that will be a “small” batch.
Coles confirmed the goods will be available.
“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 spokesperson said.
‘People should boycott’
Opposition leader Peter Dutton slammed Woolies’ decision and urged the public to boycott the chain.
“I think it’s up to customers whether they want to buy the product or not … I think people should boycott Woolworths,” he said.
“I think until we get some common sense out of a company like Woolworths, I don’t think they should be supported by the public.”
Anthony Albanese, when asked about the controversy, said his main focus was “making sure that supermarkets do the right thing by their customers at the checkout”.
“What I’d say to Australians is that Australia Day is a day on which you should buy some of that wonderful Australian lamb,” the Prime Minister said.
“It’s a day on which we can give respect to First Nations people and acknowledge that it’s a difficult day for them, but it’s also a day on which we can reflect on what it means to be an Australian and how we can make the greatest country on Earth even better in the future.”
Previously, Mr Albanese has said he does not plan to change the date of Australia Day to move it away from January 26.