What supermarkets are doing to help shoppers during the coronavirus crisis

By Taz Ali, PA

Supermarkets are taking measures to help shoppers during the coronavirus outbreak, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable.

As thousands of customers stockpiled on products in a panic-buying frenzy, many were left facing empty shelves at the supermarkets during their food shop.

Here are a range of actions taken by supermarkets to steer people away from stockpiling to ensure fewer people are missing out:

– Tesco

Tesco has prioritised a one-hour slot for the elderly and vulnerable every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9am in all of its stores with the exception of Express stores.

NHS staff are also able to visit large stores one hour before the usual store opening time every Sunday from March 22.

Customers are only able to buy three items of the same product with the removal of multi-buy promotions.

To allow for cleaning and filling shelves with stock, Tesco reduced the opening times at its 24-hour stores to 6am to 10pm.

The supermarket has implemented some social-distancing measures at its checkouts with customers encouraged to pay by card.

– Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s has dedicated the first hour in every supermarket to elderly and vulnerable customers.

The supermarket will also give customers aged over 70 and those with a disability priority access to online delivery slots from Monday.

It is also planning to expand its click and collect service by adding more collection sites from Monday.

To allow extra room for essential products, Sainsbury’s closed all of its cafes and meat, fish and pizza counters in its stores.

Customers are limited to buying three of any product and a maximum of two of the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and long-life milk.

– Asda

From Friday, Asda has dedicated the opening hours up until 9am in its larger stores for vulnerable people, with additional support for those who need it.

The supermarket has restricted shoppers to three items of any product including food, toiletries and cleaning products.

As staff numbers fluctuate with workers in self isolation, Asda revealed plans to recruit 5,000 people.

Its employees are being urged to invite friends and family whose work has been impacted by coronavirus to get in touch with their local store about job opportunities.

– Waitrose

Waitrose, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, has placed a three-item limit on certain products and a limit of two packets of toilet roll.

On Friday, it launched a protected shopping period for the elderly and vulnerable at every store which will take place during the first opening hour.

The retail group has also launched a £1 million community support fund to create additional delivery services, as well as delivering essential items to care homes and community groups and donating products to vulnerable people.

– Marks and Spencer

The high street chain announced it is dedicating the first hour on Tuesdays and Fridays for NHS staff and emergency workers.

This does not include franchise stores in petrol and railway stations.

On Friday the first opening hour of its stores were set aside for vulnerable customers, which will continue next week every Monday and Thursday.

– Aldi

The German discount supermarket has announced a recruitment drive to hire 9,000 new workers, including 4,000 permanent jobs, to help keep shelves filled during the coronavirus outbreak.

The supermarket added that all nappies and paper products, including toilet and kitchen roll, will now be restricted to two items per customer. All other products will remain restricted to four items per customer, with a few exceptions.

– Morrisons

Morrisons announced on Tuesday it is creating 3,500 jobs to expand its home delivery service to cope with demand.

It has placed purchasing restrictions across 1,250 lines.

Morrisons also announced an expansion of its home delivery service, including 3,500 new jobs.

– Lidl

On Friday, Lidl announced plans to recruit 2,500 workers to start immediately on four-week contracts to cope with the surge in demand.

In Northern Ireland, there are dedicated shopping sessions for elderly people from 9am to 11am every day.

– Co-op

The Co-op announced it will create 5,000 jobs to provide temporary employment for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis.

Around 6,500 students across 25 Co-op Academy Schools who currently have free school meals will be given a £20 voucher for every week that schools remain shut.

– Iceland

Since Thursday, the first hour of opening every day at all Iceland stores have been dedicated to the elderly and vulnerable.