Coronavirus: What are shops doing about stockpiling?


Coronavirus: What are shops doing about stockpiling?

Coronavirus: What are shops doing about stockpiling?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the supermarkets have urged shoppers to be sensible when buying food. The comments come after shoppers have been emptying shelves around the UK following the coronavirus outbreak.

So, can panic-buying be controlled, and what are supermarkets doing to restock shelves?

How many people are panic buying?
Social media is full of reports of empty shop shelves, with similar scenes in countries such as Australia, the US, South Africa and Japan.

Now, we don't have any official data on the scale of stockpiling in the UK. However, we do know some supermarkets are restricting customers from bulk-buying certain products - due to high demand.

Across different supermarkets, this includes:

  • anti-bacterial products including hand sanitiser

  • toilet roll and tissues

  • long-life milk

  • pasta

  • tinned vegetables

  • rice

  • soap

  • cleaning products

  • pain relief


What else are supermarkets doing?
The major supermarkets have started to impose limits on how many of each item people can buy in-store and online, in a bid to stop panic-buying.

Tesco will limit customers to three of any products, and only two of toilet roll and paracetamol from Thursday
Sainsbury's says people can buy up to three of any grocery products and two of more popular items like toilet paper, soap and long-life milk.

Asda will let people purchase up to three of any food, toiletry or cleaning product
Aldi is limiting customers to four of any products.

On Wednesday, Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis told customers the store would make other changes from Thursday to manage the current situation.

These include:

Introducing distancing measures at checkouts to reduce the risk of infection
Prioritising the hour between 09:00 and 10:00 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for elderly and vulnerable customers
Closing all stores, including 24-hour ones, at 22:00 to allow for the restocking of shelves, and for staff to rest
Closing all meat, fish and deli counters and salad bars.

Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe has published a letter online explaining that the supermarket is going to introduce limits on how much people can buy of individual items.

"We have enough food coming into the system but are limiting sales so as that it stays on shelves for extended and should be bought by a much bigger number of consumers ," he said, adding that Sainsbury's also will prioritise vulnerable and elderly people for online deliveries.

And on Thursday it is setting aside the first hour in all its branches for elderly and vulnerable customers to exclusively shop, as an experiment. Iceland and other shops have also trialled this.

Salisbury's and Asda are both shutting down services like cafes and pizza counters to switch staff to help keep items on shelves.

Morrison's said it would increase the number of delivery slots by recruiting 2,500 extra pickers and drivers. It has also introducing a range of food parcels for order.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, says they have had "well-rehearsed" contingency plans in place since the Sirs outbreak in 2003.

"Supply chains are robust, which we are getting food in," a spokesperson said.


People, at the end of the day this is a time for us to consider those in need and look out for them. ​If you stockpile more than you require then the chances are someone will go without.


Think of the elderly who are struggling right now with the daily buying of much needed items, this does not include stockpiling. 


So, if you have an elderly neighbour reach out and support them, ask if they need any supplies, just check in and ensure they are doing OK.

The one place where you can always find what you need 24 hrs a day is eBay UK. The best UK marketplace where you will save money on all your favourite products.

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