United Kingdom

Surge in supermarket demand sparks fears of panic buying ahead of second wave

Supermarkets have reported a surge in demand for delivery slots amid fears of more panic buying.

Shoppers anxious about a possible second national lockdown are said to be booking deliveries, with many customers unable to secure deliveries.

Ocado has said slots are selling out “faster than usual”, while bosses at Sainsbury’s say they are trying to expand their service due to “high demand”.

In March frantic Brits ignored pleas not to panic buy, stripping supermarket shelves and booking up deliveries – leaving many vulnerable and elderly people unable to get essential supplies.

With coronavirus cases rising and warnings that daily deaths could soon be in the hundreds again the government has not ruled out a second national lockdown.

Officials are keen to avoid a repeat of the scenes in March

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he favours local measures and introduced the “rule of six” in a bid to slow the infection rate.

A notice on Ocado’s website says: “Delivery slots are selling out faster than usual. If you can’t find a slot now, please use the “Next 3 days” button to see available slots further in advance.”

Meanwhile a statement on Sainsbury’s delivery slots page says: “Slots are still in high demand. We have been working hard to expand our service.  More slots are now available and we are able to offer some of them to other customers.

“Customers who are vulnerable will get priority access and are able to book slots in advance of anyone else. We’re releasing new slots regularly so please check back if you can’t see any available.”

Surge in supermarket demand sparks fears of panic buying ahead of second wave
The Prime Minister has said a second lockdown is a last resort

Earlier this year supermarkets massively expanded their delivery services, with Tesco recruiting 20,000 temporary staff as demand more than doubled.

The Prime Minister warned that the UK is “now seeing a second wave coming in” and that it was “inevitable” that  coronavirus  would hit the country again.

Boris Johnson said a second national lockdown was the “last thing anybody wants” but that current measures would need to be kept “under review”.

Surge in supermarket demand sparks fears of panic buying ahead of second wave
Data this week showed the virus is spreading, with the number of cases doubling every seven to eight days

On Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he held an emergency meeting with London council leaders, the Government and Public Health England to discuss the next steps.

Speaking on Friday, the Prime Minister said: “On Monday we brought in the measures that we did, the ‘rule of six’, to really try and restrict what people are doing and to bring in a new buffer – and to make it absolutely clear, the ‘rule of six’: indoors six maximum, six outdoors maximum.

“But the crucial thing is at the same time to observe the basic rules on social distancing – hands, face, space – that is what everybody has got to do if we want to continue to beat this thing.

“But as we look at this particular curve and what is happening now, clearly we are going to keep everything under review. I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all, it is the last thing anybody wants.

“I don’t want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all, we want to keep schools open and it is fantastic the schools have gone back in the way they have.

“We want to keep the economy open as far as we possibly can, we want to keep businesses going.

“The only way we can do that is obviously if people follow the guidance.”

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