inside business

Coronavirus: The real reason supermarket shelves are empty

It looks like stores are running out – but the issue isn’t with supply, writes James Moore

Tuesday 17 March 2020 19:01
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Hand sanitiser is one of many items that people have been panic buying
Hand sanitiser is one of many items that people have been panic buying

The public’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak has led to Britain’s supermarkets generating the sort revenues they see only during the pre-Christmas rush, in the final week before the big day.

But there’s a crucial difference in the business mix. Whereas they tend to sell a smaller amount of pricey, high-margin items over the festive period, right now they’re shifting much higher volumes of low-margin items.

Their shelves have been denuded of cans of beans, bags of pasta and, of course, loo roll and hand sanitiser.

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