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Coronavirus: Sainsbury’s introduces rationing which limits customers to three of any product to prevent panic-buying

'We have enough food for everyone', says supermarket boss

Sarah Young
Wednesday 18 March 2020 09:50 GMT
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Coronavirus: Empty supermarket shelves amid panic buying

Sainsbury’s has implemented rationing on essential food and household items in a bid to prevent customers from stockpiling during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

On Wednesday Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s chief executive officer, issued a statement on the company’s Twitter account in which he addressed some of the extra steps the supermarket is taking to ensure everyone has access to the items they need.

In recent weeks, images of empty shelves in stores have been circulating on social media as shoppers across the UK have been panic-buying items such as toilet roll and dried pasta, despite the prime minister discouraging them from doing so.

Following the reports, Sainsbury’s has now decided to place restrictions on certain products in all its stores to allow their stocks to replenish.

The new rules will mean that customers will only be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular items such as toilet roll, soap and UHT milk.

“I mentioned last week that we had put limits on a very small number of products. Following feedback from our customers and from our store colleagues, we have decided to put restrictions on a larger number of products,” Mr Coupe said in the statement.

“From tomorrow, the 18 March, customers will be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk.”

The supermarket boss added that Sainsbury’s has enough food coming into the system but it has made the decision to limit sales so that products “stay on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger number of customers”.

As part of its new extra steps, Sainsbury’s has also introduced a shopping hour specifically for its elderly and vulnerable customers, as well as giving them priority access to online delivery slots.

In addition, the supermarket will be closing its cafes and its meat, fish and pizza counters to free up freight capacity for essential products.

In the statement, Mr Coupe also urged customers to thank Sainsbury’s staff for their hard work during this uncertain and demanding period.

“I wanted to end by saying a huge thank you to Sainsbury’s colleagues across the business,” Mr Coupe said.

“Everyone is working flat out in difficult circumstances to do their best to serve our customers. If you’re able to say thank you to them when you see them, I know they would hugely appreciate it.”

Sainsbury’s is not the first UK retailer to implement rationing on certain products.

Earlier this month, Tesco announced that its customers, both online and in-store, were now limited to buying no more than five of certain items – such as pasta, UHT milk, water, hand sanitiser, some tinned vegetables and certain children’s medication.

The restrictions come as the UK recorded 71 coronavirus-related deaths with up to 55,000 thought to be infected so far, the official count however currently stands at just under 2,000

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