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Shoppers ‘queue’ for home deliveries as supermarket panic-buying moves online

Both online and in-store shoppers have been struggling to buy essential items as panic buying sets in amid the coronavirus pandemic. Retailers have faced a chaotic week as they quickly sold out of toilet paper, cleaning products, dried pasta and tinned food. Supermarket websites and online grocers such as Ocado have also been hit by…

Both online and in-store shoppers have been struggling to buy essential items as panic buying sets in amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Retailers have faced a chaotic week as they quickly sold out of toilet paper, cleaning products, dried pasta and tinned food.

Supermarket websites and online grocers such as Ocado have also been hit by the surge in orders, with some supermarkets forced to ration certain items to ensure they are available to all customers.

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On Monday, Morrisons said it was increasing the amount of food it makes at its manufacturing sites, increasing the volume of stock sent to stores and “introducing temporary purchase limits” on products with high demand.

The supermarket also said it would expand its home delivery service to cope with the surge in demand.

In Ireland, which has witnessed panic buying on a scale similar to the UK, Lidl said it would introduce prioritised queueing and assistance for elderly customers from 9am to 11am each day.

Similarly, Iceland said it would reserve the first two hours of Wednesday morning for elderly and vulnerable people to do their shopping.

Ocado said it has seen “exceptionally high demand” on its website, meaning delivery slots have sold out “quicker than expected”.

The online supermarket said that due to “unusual demand, we have made the call to temporarily prioritise deliveries for existing registered customers. We will not be processing new customer bookings for the time being.”

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Ocado said it has seen ‘exceptionally high demand’ (The Independent)

Other supermarkets have also seen delivery slots fill up rapidly, with some shoppers saying they had been unable to book home deliveries for over three weeks.

On Sunday, the UK’s largest supermarkets wrote to customers calling on them to be “considerate” and stop stockpiling.

Some shoppers were unable to book home deliveries for weeks (The Independent)

The environment secretary, George Eustice, has held daily phone calls with supermarket chief executives to ensure customers will have the necessary supply of provisions.

A government spokesman said: “We are in regular contact with the food industry to ensure it is well prepared to deal with a range of scenarios.

“Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains and taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.

“We’ve introduced new measures to make sure businesses can continue to keep food supply flowing, such as extending delivery hours to supermarkets to ensure shelves can be replenished more quickly.

“Representatives of our leading supermarkets have provided reassurance there is plenty of stock available.”

The coronavirus has infected 1,543 people in the UK and 55 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died, the Department of Health said on Monday.

Additional reporting by agencies

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