Rationing warning unless shoppers 'resist the urge to stockpile'

Supermarket supply chains are understood to be better able to deal with panic buying, although retailers said it was yet to be widespread.

Image source: Wisbech Standard

Supermarkets and food firms told people to “resist the urge to stockpile” to avoid rationing of products amid fears customers would return to panic buying as lockdown restrictions were reimposed.

The likelihood of a second wave has prompted concerns that shoppers will return to panic buying which was first seen back in March. During the first wave of coronavirus worried shoppers flooded supermarkets and emptied shelves of essentials like toilet paper and dried pasta.

Photos taken at a number of Costco stores across the country showed long queues and shoppers with trolleys laden high with toilet roll on Tuesday. There were also empty shelves spotted at a Tesco in Wellingborough, according to reports.

The Government moved to reassure the public saying that the UK has a “highly resilient food chain”, while supermarkets insisted that the supply chain has been strengthened since March to deal with any possible shortages.

Retailers insisted there are currently no signs of mass panic buying.

When asked whether new rationing was being considered, a spokesman for Iceland said: “We regularly review whether we need to restrict purchases of any products to ensure that these are available to as many customers as possible.

“There are currently no restrictions in place and the need for these should be avoided if people resist the urge to stockpile.”

He insisted that there are no signs of panic buying currently and said the supermarket has boosted its home delivery capacity to 750,000 slots a week.

He added: “We and other food retailers have invested millions since March in strengthening our supply chains and making our stores Covid secure.

“There should be no recurrence of the issues we saw earlier in the year so long as customers continue to shop responsibly for what they actually need.”

Earlier this week, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade body, urged customers to be “considerate” in the event of a second lockdown.

The Prime Minister’s speech and imposition of further measures will only fuel fears that another nationwide lockdown could be just around the corner.

A spokesman for the British Frozen Food Federation,a trade body, said that the empty shelves in March were not caused by shortages, but by problems getting products to stores.

He said: “The supply chain is in much better shape than it was in March. Consumers should not panic, there’s plenty of food there.”

A spokesman for the Government said: “The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain.

“We continue to work closely with food retailers and the food industry as we have done throughout the response to the coronavirus pandemic. They are operating normally and as expected.”

Andrew Opie, of the BRC, said: “Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under any future lockdown.”

Source: The Telegraph