Near-empty shelves of toilet paper in a Melbourne supermarket
This is a representational image

Woolworths on Monday stated that the empty shelves at its supermarket stores across Brisbane and south-east Queensland were caused due a "terrible IT problem."

Describing the situation of empty shelves as a "warehouse management system upgrade" that had gone wrong, Woolworths stated it arose after a delay in getting stock to stores across Brisbane and south-east Queensland, The Guardian reported.

"We've had a terrible IT problem," Paul Harker, chief commercial officer, told the Queensland parliament's inquiry into supermarket pricing, adding it had caused "carnage."

"We're not particularly happy about the situation. We're working very hard to improve it. We apologize to our customers that we have had issues."

During the weekend, some Woolworths customers had complained on social media about the empty shelves at the supermarket and they were told it's because of supply shortage.

Several distribution centers in Brisbane faced shortage of supplies.

"Orders to some of our Queensland stores have been delayed due to operational issues at one of our distribution centers in Brisbane. Some stores may be stocking less fruit and vegetables, milk and chicken than usual. Product purchase limits are not in place," The Guardian quoted a Woolworths spokesperson as saying, adding that supply levels were expected to improve "in the coming days".

According to a Reuters news report earlier this month, the deflation hit the supermarket chain in March quarter, causing a decline in the share prices. The chain's shelf prices fell even as it tried to attract customers who are facing high living expenses. The company expects tough trading conditions for another year.

"Consumers are under pressure in this country and we have a role in helping them," stated Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci, when he was asked if he hoped the price deflation would slow down calls for an improved regulation.

Woolworths and Coles, the two dominant names in Australian grocery sales, have been facing pressure from political parties to fight the rising food insecurity.