UK Markets closed

Supermarkets say shelves will be full again but warn against more stockpiling

John Dunne, Jonathan Prynn
Customers queue outside a supermarket in Whitley Bay: PA

Major supermarkets said they expected their shelves to be full this week after restrictions on the number of people allowed into stores made it easier for staff to restock.

Less panic-buying after the chaotic scenes at some stores ahead of the lockdown has also allowed retailers to rebuild stocks of essentials. However, they warned that any return to stockpiling could see shelves stripped bare once again.

A spokeswoman for Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, said: “We are working hard to make sure there is availability across our stores.

"We’ve increased the daily flow of food to stores to record levels, but we need everyone’s help to buy only what they need, so that there is enough for everyone.”

Tesco is aiming to double the normal amounts of milk, bread, rice, pasta and toilet rolls sent to stores.

A spokeswoman for Asda said social distancing rules that place limits on the number of people in stores meant that staff have “more time to stock the shelves”. She added: “Customers now realise there’s enough in-store for everyone when they visit.”

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said: “Customers will continue to see good availability of food and essential items.”

Morrisons’ chief executive David Potts said its bakery, egg and fruit and vegetable departments will run for an extra hour every day to make, prepare and pack food required to restock the services. It will also be donating £10 million-worth of items such as canned goods and pasta to local food banks via “community champions”.

Meanwhile some traders at Billingsgate fish market said they were being forced to close after customers failed to stay two metres apart.

Steve Monaghan, who runs John Stockwell, closed his shop at the east London market on Saturday for the first time in 28 years, because he feared for his employees’ safety.

A spokesman for City of London Corporation, which runs the market, said it had taken steps to “ensure a safe environment” such as “limiting the number of people in the market, extra policing, additional hand sanitisers and clear signage”.

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