Coronavirus: Tesco limits essential items to one each to stop customers stockpiling

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A member of staff from a Tesco express store waits for a delivery in London, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A member of staff from a Tesco Express store waits for a delivery in London. (AP)

Tesco has put a one-item limit on essential items at some of its stores after customers started stockpiling products because of coronavirus.

The supermarket chain’s Express stores have reportedly begun limiting customers to just one item each of essentials such as milk, bread, eggs and toilet roll.

According to The Times, a Tesco Express store in Walthamstow had a sign on some shelves which read: “To help give everyone access to essential items this product is limited to only 1 per customer.”

Last week, Tesco implemented a three-item limit on all products and it hasn’t ruled out imposing even stricter measures to make sure it doesn’t run out of key items.

Photo by: KGC-305/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 3/19/20 As COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues, supermarkets are becoming more and empty. Staff at Tesco Extra in New Malden explained they simply could not restock the shelves fast enough. The 24hr store has already cut its opening hours to 6am-midnight, to try and cope with the insane amount of shoppers coming through the doors. However at 9pm, despite the car park being very busy, the shelves were pretty much ALL empty, not just the usual long life food aisles and toilet paper aisle. Instead, all fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, beer, crisps, ready meals, dairy etc, was totally empty. Confused customers walked around the store almost in a daze, while others rushed to pick up the few available items left.
Empty shelves at Tesco Extra in New Malden. (AP)

Tesco said in a statement: “This is a fluid situation. Our ability to forecast and understand demand is very difficult right now.

“We are reliant on stores giving updates on what is happening in their local areas and they would be working to understand how best to get products to customers.”

On Friday, Tesco said that all online orders will be capped at a maximum of 80 items.

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Previously, most online shoppers at Tesco had fewer than 60 items in their basket, the store said, however a spike in orders with more than 100 items selected had encouraged the company to implement the new limit.

And earlier this week Tesco boss Dave Lewis wrote to customers setting out new measures to ensure social distancing for shoppers in his stores.

The chief executive said there will now be floor markings in car parks to maintain safe distances when queuing, the number of shoppers in a store will be restricted, and extra hand santisier and cleaning products for trolleys is available.

He added that new floor markings will be added to checkout areas, protective screens introduced on checkouts, and one-way isles.

Mr Lewis added: “Some of these measures you will already be aware of, but I have pulled out below the new health and safety measures we are implementing.

“Our social distancing plans aim to protect customers from the moment they enter our car parks, to browsing products, to paying and finally exiting our stores.

“We are constantly listening to feedback and will take all the learnings to better support our customers and colleagues at this time.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are introducing additional measures to protect our customers and colleagues, and ensure that everyone in our stores maintains a safe distance. We’re asking customers to help by following some simple requests when they shop with us.”

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