Several major supermarkets have announced limits on the number of certain items that each customer can buy.
The move comes as many stores report panicked customers clearing the shelves of items like toilet paper, pasta, and tinned food due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Seeking to reassure the public, Sainsbury’s CEO, Mike Coupe said, “We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger number of customers.”
Other stores have set aside hours of the day when only elderly and vulnerable people can visit stores, in an effort to prevent them from catching Covid-19.
Tesco has announced that it is limiting the number of items a customer can buy to three, on all of its product lines.
It has also said its 24 hour stores will now operate on 6am to 10pm opening times, to allow staff to restock shelves more effectively. The supermarket giant has called on staff in its head offices to work in stores and warehouses to help ease the pressure on the company’s supply chain.
At Sainsbury’s customers will be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk.
From Thursday (19 Mar), the stores’ meat, fish, and pizza counters and cafes will be closed to free up staff for shelf-stacking, lorry and warehouse work. Sainsbury’s head office workers are also being called on to work in stores.
Also on Thursday, the first hour of trading in all Sainsbury’s stores will be solely for elderly and vulnerable people. It will also be giving priority for its online orders to those over 70 and the disabled.
From 18th March, customers will be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk.
Update: Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all Sainsbury’s supermarkets will dedicate 8am – 9am to serving the elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers, as well as NHS and social care workers. From Monday 23rd March, opening hours will be consolidated. The new opening times will be 8am – 8pm, Monday to Saturday so that stores can focus on stocking shelves.
Iceland has not set a restriction on the number of items customers can buy, but has set aside the early opening hours exclusively for older and vulnerable shoppers.
Morrisons is limiting the number of purchases customers can make of more than 1,000 products in store, and has made similar restrictions online.
A notice on the company’s website said, “You may notice that delivery slots for our online grocery service are becoming less readily available as the demand for home deliveries increases.
“We’re working hard to facilitate as many orders as we can, however, please be aware that you may need to book your slot further in advance than usual.
“You will also discover that there is a maximum order number on selected products so we can make sure our customers still have access to essential products.”
Next week the company will introduce three food parcel options, which can be ordered over the phone and delivered to your home.
A total of 500 Morrisons office workers are now reported to be working in its distribution centres and stores.
Asda have asked customers to be patient, while the company deals with the huge spike in demand it has encountered since the outbreak of coronavirus. It has since imposed a two item limit on purchasing items like hand sanitiser and cleaning products.
A notice on the company’s website asked customers to “shop responsibly in our stores and online so that everyone has access to the essentials.
“We are also grateful to our colleagues for their efforts to make sure our shelves are being refilled regularly and would ask customers to be patient with them as they try to meet this increased demand for products on the shop floor.”
Waitrose is restricting the online sales of certain antibacterial soaps and wipes but has so far not announced any in-store limits on purchasing.
The company has drafted in around 600 John Lewis head office staff to its outlets, and has called on staff in 40 stores to identify friends and family who can help to man the tills for the next month.
Aldi has restricted all items in its store to four units, citing “unprecedented demand” because of coronavirus.
In a statement the company said, “All our stores remain open and continue to serve our valued customers.
“We have good product availability and our colleagues are working tirelessly to restock and replenish shelves as quickly as they can.”
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