Supermarket shelves begin to empty of toilet roll and frozen food

Is Britain headed for another panic buying frenzy? Supermarket shelves begin to empty of toilet roll and frozen food as third national lockdown begins

  • Supermarket shelves are raided after Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement 
  • But chains insist they still have good availability and tell people to shop normally
  • Retailers also see websites come under pressure as shoppers race to book slots

Shoppers have raided some supermarket shelves after Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement for England – but chains insist they still have good availability.

Video footage filmed at a Tesco branch in South Woodford, North East London, after 9pm last night showed limited stock left of toilet roll and kitchen roll.

Other pictures showed empty frozen food shelves, a lack of fresh bread and low supplies of toilet roll at a Tesco in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, this afternoon. 

And photographs taken at a Sainsbury’s branch in the St Philips area of Bristol this morning showed gaps on the shelves in the fresh fruit and vegetables aisles.

However, retailers insisted they have enough products in stock along with regular deliveries to their stores and encouraged customers to shop as normal.

Supermarkets have seen their websites come under pressure after shoppers raced to book deliveries ahead of the new national lockdown in England. 

Limited stock of toilet rolls at a Tesco branch in South Woodford, North East London, last night

Kitchen roll stock was also running low at the Tesco in South Woodford yesterday evening

The major chains experienced huge demand yesterday evening after the Prime Minister announced the third English lockdown would begin.

Sainsbury’s app came under huge demand, while Tesco also experienced issues and Morrisons and Ocado were forced to place shoppers in virtual queues.

Websites appeared to be running largely as normal today, but with little availability left for home delivery slots.

Sainsbury’s said it had temporarily limited access online to ‘manage high demand for slots and updates customers were making to existing orders’.

A spokesman also insisted the retailer had good availability and regular deliveries to its stores, so it encouraged customers to shop as normal.  

Empty frozen food shelves at a Tesco in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, this afternoon

Toilet paper stock is also reducing today at this Tesco store in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

Fresh bread stock is also sparse today at this Tesco store in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

Tesco said bosses were holding discussions to review the item limit for online baskets, as well as product restrictions across popular items such as toilet rolls, antibacterial wipes and pasta.

A Tesco spokesman said: ‘We have good availability in stores and online, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.’

The sector has been flooded with demand amid tightening restrictions over the past two months, with industry figures showing a record month for supermarkets in December.

Britons spent £11.7billion in supermarkets throughout December in their busiest month ever, with trade boosted by the closure of restaurants, bars and cafes across most of the UK, according to Kantar.

The data revealed the record December helped sales jump 11.4 per cent to £32.7billion over the 12 weeks to December 27.

Morrisons also reported festive trading figures showing sales soared 9.3 per cent year-on-year in the past three weeks, which included the key Christmas trading period. 

Empty shelves at a Sainsbury’s store in St Philips, Bristol, are pictured this morning

Some prepared veg options were unavailable at a Sainsbury’s store in St Philips, Bristol, today

Some baskets at a Sainsbury’s in St Philips, Bristol, were empty when photographed today 

Like-for-like sales were up 8.5 per cent over the nine weeks to January 3 and were up 8.3 per cent in six months to the same date, helped by strong sales online and increases in its wholesale business.

Kantar said supermarket trading was boosted by the £4billion that would normally have been spent on food and drink outside the home over the Christmas season.

The report also showed online grocery sales accounted for 12.6 per cent of total spend in December, compared with 7.4 per cent in 2019.

Online specialist Ocado ended the year as the country’s fastest growing retailer after a 36.5 per cent sales surge over the festive quarter. 

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