Which supermarkets are introducing rationing and why?

Morrisons became the first UK supermarket chain to reinstate rationing this week

Olivia Petter
Friday 25 September 2020 17:16 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As the number of coronavirus cases in the UK continues to rise, it seems that many people are preparing for another lockdown by stockpiling food and drink.

This week, Morrisons became the first supermarket chain to reinstate rationing on certain items in light of concerns that people were buying much more than they needed.

The move has prompted other supermarkets, including Tesco, to follow suit and introduce restrictions on certain items.

It comes after supermarket shelves were emptied in March when the UK entered lockdown.

Hence why rationing has been introduced to prevent such an event again.

From which items are restricted to which supermarket chains are restricting them, here’s everything you need to know about supermarket rationing.

Which supermarkets have started rationing?

Morrisons began rationing a range of essential items this week.

On Thursday, the supermarket chain confirmed that it has introduced a purchase limit of three on products such as toilet roll and disinfectant.

However, it reassured people that there are still plenty of items for “available for everyone”.

“We are introducing a limit on a small number of key products, such as toilet roll and disinfectant,” a spokesperson for Morrisons told The Independent.

“Our stock levels of these products are good but we want to ensure that they are available for everyone.”

Tesco has since followed suit.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s told The Independent that it is currently not placing restrictions on any of its products, while a representative for Asda said: “We are not seeing any evidence of panic-buying either in store or online, we have plenty of delivery slots available since we have nearly doubled the amount available since the start of March.”

Which items are being restricted?

Thus far, it’s only a small number of essential items that are being restricted across supermarkets. 

These items are considered to be the ones that are most likely to be stockpiled.

Which items are being rationed differs at each supermarket.

For example, Morrisons has imposed rations on toilet roll, bleach and disinfectant. Customers can only buy three items of each product.

At Tesco, a three-item limit has also been imposed on flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and antibacterial wipes.

Tesco’s restrictions apply to all store and online sales, though online orders will also see limits on additional items such as rice and canned vegetables.

Why are rations being imposed?

Rationing is being reinstated in response to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the UK and to ensure that people are not panic-buying and therefore preventing some people from accessing the essential items they need.

All of the major supermarkets introduced rationing when the UK went into lockdown in March after shelves were emptied due to people bulk-buying items.

The rations were lifted as stocks returned, but supermarkets are keen to avoid a similar scenario this time around. Hence the introduction of rationing.

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