Shoppers are being urged to shop considerately as supermarkets tighten safety measures ahead of expected new lockdown restrictions.
After a break of several months Morrisons has reinstated marshals on the doors of its 494 supermarkets to better monitor shopper numbers and remind those entering to wear face masks.
Jayne Wall, Morrisons operations director, said the company’s additional hygiene measures – which include vending machine-style cleaning stations outside stores and hiring thousands of new cleaners – were designed to make “customers feel as safe as possible”.
Back in March supermarkets were forced to take drastic action, including rationing products such as pasta, toilet roll and flour, after the arrival of coronavirus on British shores led to a wave of stockpiling.
With the industry eager to avoid a repeat this autumn, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) urged shoppers not to change their habits.
“Retailers have done an excellent job in ensuring customers have access to the food and necessities throughout this pandemic,” said Andrew Opie, the BRC’s director of food and sustainability.
“Supermarkets have put in place a range of safety measures to protect staff and customers. In the event of future lockdowns we urge consumers to be considerate and shop for food as they would usually during this difficult time.”
The localised lockdowns introduced in recent weeks have not triggered the extreme shopping behaviour experienced during the original national lockdown, according to industry sources, so it is hoped a repeat of long queues and empty shelves can be avoided.
Tesco is not currently experiencing any product shortages with the UK’s biggest food retailer reporting good availability both in stores and online. Sainsbury’s, the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, said it had “good availability of [delivery] slots” and that trading patterns this weekend “have been normal”.
The pandemic forced to country’s food retailers to rethink their business models as demand for grocery home delivery doubled at the height of the crisis.
The major chains have all expanded their services with Tesco now offering 1.5m weekly delivery slots, compared with 600,000 in March. Sainsbury’s said its website could now serve twice as many people as six months ago.