Supermarket giant Coles has come under fire for increasing its delivery prices and the threshold for free delivery by 25 per cent during the COVID-19 crisis.

Coles recently increased the free delivery threshold for orders from $150 or more to $200 and raised its delivery fee from $8 to $12.

Gary Mortimer from the Queensland University of Technology Business School said it was surprised Coles would increase costs when delivery was in high demand.

“It’s disappointing to see an Australian supermarket increase the cost of delivery and its threshold for free delivery at this particular time when there is a significant need for online delivery,” Mr Mortimer said.

“Both Coles and Woolworths, have indicated, in their previous annual reports siginificant increase for the demand for this service…traditionally that increase in volume would mean lower costs.”

Coles customers have expressed their anger at the supermarket chain on social media.

One person posted on Twitter that, “my elderly parents who can’t spend $200 and can’t get to the shops because they are vulnerable are being charged a $12 delivery fee for what used to be free, pre pandemic.”

Another customer wrote that the “minimum order was excessive as a lot of people like me only shop for themselves and $200 is a lot of food.”

Mr Mortimer said even though Coles had engaged several thousand more drivers and employees to service the demand, it should not drive delivery costs up.

“It doesn’t matter if you have 10 drivers or 100 drivers, it’s the same delivery costs,” he said.

A Coles representative said the new delivery fees reflect the cost of picking, packing and delivering orders to customers.

“By reorganising our delivery windows we have been able to increase the number of slots available for customers, and we have also recruited hundreds of extra customer service agents to help us meet increased demand for Coles online deliveries,” they said.

Coles’ $200 delivery waiver threshold was still cheaper than Woolworths which has remained steady at $300.

Coles also has a flat $12 delivery fee for orders less than $200 while Woolies decreases incrementally, starting at $15 for under $100.