Coronavirus: Supermarkets ask shoppers to be ‘considerate’ and stop panic buying

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Panic buying has left some supermarkets in the UK with empty shelves

Supermarkets are urging shoppers not to buy more than they need amid concern over coronavirus-linked stockpiling.

In a joint letter, UK retailers have reminded customers to be considerate in their shopping, so that others are not left without much-needed items.

“There is enough for everyone if we all work together,” it adds.

It comes after some shops began rationing the sales of certain products to avoid them selling out completely.

In the letter, the retailers say online and click-and-collect services are at “full capacity” and staff and suppliers are “working day and night to keep the nation fed”.

The retailers say they are working “closely” with government and suppliers to make more deliveries to stores so that shelves are well-stocked.

“We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without,” the letter reads.

Speaking on behalf of retailers, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “In the face of unprecedented demand as a result of coronavirus, food retailers have come together to ask their customers to support each other to make sure everyone can get access to the products they need.”

The plea follows widespread concern over shoppers emptying supermarket shelves as fears grow over the spread of coronavirus.

Items including toilet paper, hand sanitiser, pasta and tinned foods are among those that have been in short supply.

At Tesco, shoppers are limited to buying no more than five of certain goods, including anti-bacterial gels, wipes and sprays, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables.

Meanwhile, Waitrose has brought in a temporary cap on some items on its website, including some anti-bacterial soaps and wipes.

Boots and Asda are both restricting some types of hand sanitiser to two bottles per person.

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There were empty shelves at a Waitrose in Sheffield

Campaigners have warned stockpiling could hit the “most vulnerable” hardest.

Some food banks say they have a shortage of basic items which have already been panic bought by shoppers.

The government has said there is no need for anyone to stockpile items, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging people to “behave responsibly and think about others”.

The government is relaxing restrictions on delivery hours for retailers to try to ensure shops remain stocked with basic items.

Deliveries to supermarkets are usually restricted overnight to avoid disturbing local residents.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said allowing night-time deliveries would allow stock to move more quickly from warehouses to shelves.

Meanwhile, the Competition and Markets Authority watchdog has warned retailers not to “exploit” fears about coronavirus by dramatically increasing the price of protective goods such as hand gels and face masks.

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