Locked up or Restricted Products - Tell us what you've had to ask a staff member to get for you

We’ve probably all at least seen them - those products that are locked away for some reason. Sometimes the reason is obvious - paint spray cans spring to mind - sometimes less obvious.

Smokes have been behind counters for years - I don’t ever recall seeing them on a shelf.

Paint spray cans I remember seeing on the shelves. When they were moved to locked cabinets seems more recent in my now slightly ageing memory but still not that long ago.

I recall driving through Coober Pedy many years ago when the local supermarket sold explosives and detonators - they weren’t on the shelf - you’d need to ask a staff member and have some kind of paperwork from memory. Yes I asked what the deal was - it was obvious I wasn’t a miner … The reason here was fairly obvious …

Some products are sealed - like kitchen knives in supermarkets and certain magazines in newsagents - and they are both for reasonably good reasons I guess. Here, the register flags for assistance (self serve) if you buy a big kitchen knife, because apparently they can cut more than beef and lamb …

Other products are not on shelves due to handling requirements - like the deli section at most supermarkets … and I’m sure that’s generally a good thing.

Codeine containing 'cetamols is another that was in the news a year or two back …

Alcohol in some parts of the country comes under substantial scrutiny - with two levels of showing photographic identification along with disclosing the place of consumption and pretty much anything else the police (in the first instance) insist you disclose. Pseudo-police in the case of the NT - armed with Glocks and pepper but without much trailing …

Low aromatic fuel is another - in some parts of the country you can’t buy ‘sniffable’ 91 octane, but of course you can buy perfectly sniffable 95 or 98 octane (RON not MON or (AKI) or (R+M)/2 for the pedants and merkins - RON is what most of the planet measures octane as) in exactly the same places. Apparently the people who might sniff 91 won’t spend 20-30c more to buy a good sniffable 95 or 98 - I do because a couple of my machines sniff it with great gusto, but I digress …

Then there is ‘the sniffables’ or otherwise (apparently) misuseables in the supermarket. Below is a picture of the deodorants section in my local supermarket - aerosols AND roll-ons. I’m not sure who they are intending to keep out with the hardware in place, maybe Rambo or the Terminator sniff my favourite roll-on …

What have you had to ask a staffer to unlock, find, approve or otherwise give you from behind the counter?


Pseudoephedrine! (the original Sudafed and Codral) It is the only effective tablet form decongestant I am aware of that works for colds and low grade sinus infections. Not only are we treated as drug producing criminals when we ask for it, the price has been (probably) artificially inflated to further dissuade us from buying it. Two decades ago it was about $USD0.04 each; now it is $USD1.00 or more each.

The replacement, phenylephrine, is reportedly ineffective in tablet form while effective in a nasal spray. Guess how we buy it!

It is a double whammy to have government bless us to waste our dollars on ineffective approved rubbish (we no longer do) while paying exorbitant prices and being treated like criminals (we get an ‘interrogation’ each time) when buying effective meds .


The practices this side of the state boarder (Qld) seem a little different. It took a while to recall any actual purchases.

Other than cigs which I used to pop down to the corner store for with 2 bob in hand to take home for my mum you ask?
P.s. matches were much harder to buy as a small boy!

Over the past year for everyday purchases the only items in the from behind the counter or locked cabinet - some stuff at the chemist, an SD card, 9ct gold ear-rings! Oh, and the occasional bottle of whiskey depending on which outlet.

Also just about any spare part for the mower, chainsaw, tractor etc. Possibly for storage convenience, but perhaps also to disguise how few spares there really are? :thinking:

The local co-op puts the spray cans and the most useful of the herbicides etc on the upper shelving. This can aid in being able to read the label without bending! If you need bulk, eg 100l, 1000l though you need to wait fir the fork to bring it around. While waiting customers can still assess the grip and balance of an axe, but not a machete or cane knife. Assume they hide these securely.

Some products sit locked away for obvious reason, or behind the counter. Valuable (jewellery) or hazardous (pharmaceuticals).

I suspect many items are only secured to protect them from the public, EG photographic equipment. This also helps the store by forcing you to engage with a sales rep who optionally needs to observe a wave of your credit card. They always seem to ask for your personal details for the warranty at certain stores. Some items may be secured as a deliberate ploy just to force you into exposing yourself?

At JB-Hifi I can pick up a small box with a $300 router inside, pay and walk out. I much prefer to purchase similar items over a counter at a specialty computer store of a catalogue. At least they may have only been dropped on the floor once or twice by the store person?

It’s not uncommon for large stores like K-mart, Big-W etc to keep secure lower value items that might be readily shop lifted (temptation). Memory cards, hand held devices etc.

In the world of alcohol it’s interesting to observe the variations in how spirits and expensive wine are managed. At one end of the price range It would appear the dearer drops may be locked away to add to the allure that they are somehow different rather than a genuine security issue? Or for the local all spirits and fortified wines are behind the counter. Perhaps it’s part of the requirements?


That prompted me that wine and whisky displays in many shops are done whereby some bottles are in locked glass displays and others not. It often has no relationship to their prices since a more expensive bottle can be sitting on the open racks. My marketing sense thinks it is to make those in the locked glass seem more valuable, and they could thus be more profitable regardless of absolute price.

Conclusion, there is more than one reason some products are ‘locked away’.

Another similar product treatment is sometimes anti theft packaging. A case in point is anti-ageing cream (lets not go there). RRP is usually about $35 +/- and they are regularly on sale for $20. When not on sale they are displayed in anti-theft packaging to make them appear ‘valuable’, but when on sale the items are just ‘on the shelf’.


The return and replace gas bottles at servos are locked up in Brisbane and most hardware stores.

Along with party ice at some outlets as well.


For some indiscernible reason the replaceable razor cartridges are sometimes locked up in our supermarkets. As we have a very high number of homeless in the area, perhaps the stores are stopping them liberating stock so they can afford to shave?

Not locked away, but security tagged - women’s underwear. Apparently there is a bit of a swap and go culture which saves on washing.


I was informed by a supermarket employee that locking up deodorants (including roll ons) in the NT is “required by law” - they gave no further details other than apparently people also sniff roll ons. The NT has a “Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act” but I am left wondering how supermarket staff are expected to profile and judge likely offenders …


Alcohol is the main one that comes to mind as well as phones/video games/electronics at Cash Converters. The one I would love to see behind locked up would be baby formula so people who buy it to then on sell it to other countries cannot take them by the trolley full.


A vehicle headlight bulb with a usual price of $12 reduced to $6 at Super Cheap Auto, Frankston. The store puts antitheft-devices at the end of individual display hooks so it’s not possible to remove a product from the hook without a staff member unlocking the device. I asked the staff member why some globes were locked and other were not and he said “because people like to steal stuff”. When I further questioned why $24 globes were displayed without a lock and $6 globes were locked, he just shrugged his shoulders.


I agree that pseudoephedrine is the only effective decongestant for a serious cold. Fortunately, I’m only afflicted every three years or so. When the restrictions on the drug were first instituted, and I uttered the word: “pseudoephedrine” in the pharmacy, I was treated with suspicion and given the third degree. I half expected to be bailed up and patted down! Around a year ago, when I presented to the chemist and requested it, no problemo. They took my driver’s licence out the back for whatever verification and logging they perform and returned with the product. There was an agreeable chat while they processed my payment and a pleasant salutation issued to me on my departure. A seamless transaction. With pseudoephedrine, I went from feeling like I was on my deathbed during the long commute home from the CBD to easily managing the symptoms within an hour of taking the drug. I have not experienced any other treatment that is so effective in suppressing symptoms.