With the UK currently in panic-buying mode, Aldi has become the first supermarket to introduce across-the-board rationing, which means customers can buy no more than four of any single grocery line when they visit a store.
Grocery retailers are struggling to cope with demand for store cupboard essentials, as shoppers stock up in preparation for potential self-isolation and amid fears of shortages or store closures. Sainsbury's has closed certain sections of its stores, including its delicatessens and cafes.
Iceland plans to keep Wednesday morning's free for elderly and vulnerable people, stating: “We are encouraging our store managers to dedicate the first two hours of opening on Wednesday morning to the elderly (those of state pension age) and vulnerable people in their community, such as those with disabilities.
“We commend the action taken by our colleagues in the west Belfast store, who have already dedicated an hour of early morning opening for the elderly. We are focused on being able to feed the nation and to support those most in need.”
Likewise, Lidl plans to prioritise the hours of 9am to 11am each day for older customers.
Environment secretary, George Eustice, has been talking daily with supermarket chiefs to ensure supply chains suffer minimal disruption, while a DEFRA spokesperson stated: “We are in regular contact with the food industry to ensure it is well-prepared to deal with a range of scenarios. Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains and taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.”