Friday, May 7, 2021

Panic Buying Returns As Lockdown 2 Fears Grow

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to inform the UK of a tightening of restrictions as Covid-19 cases exponentially increase.

Over the weekend supermarkets such as Ocado and Sainsbury’s have reported empty spaces on the shelves. Ocado specifically has reported an increase in demand for home deliveries of goods and as such delivery slots are filling up fast as fears of a second wave spark. ​Other supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tescos have similarly warned their customers that delivery slots are getting booked quickly and yet are still in high demand. They have also stated that vulnerable customers will be prioritized in being given delivery slots Tesco also stated that they had great availability both in stores and online and had not experienced any shortages.

“We have more than doubled our online capacity from around 600,000 weekly slots at the start of the crisis to 1.5 million now,” said a spokeswoman.

Logistics expert Dr Jonathan Owens, of the University of Salford Business School stated that supermarkets were better equipped to deal with a second spike in demand due to the upscaling of their online businesses. He however warned that panic buyers could see a repeat of the chaos that March showed.

“Already the second wave is creating a surge in demand and a new spike because of the behaviours of panicked customers. Unfortunately, the majority of stores do not have enough capacity (front or back shop) to store excess stock to meet regular customer demand.”

In March of 2020, stockpiling saw £60m of products being stockpiled within the first week of the pandemic crisis alone. A series of retailers informed The Grocer that the shelves would only be emptied at the alarming rate as in March would be if there was a sudden surge in demand from shoppers. However the supermarkets have stressed that their storage capacity both online and in stores was in good standing. Supermarkets and retailers have proven this and have done an excellent job in a constant supply of produce for their customers even in a crisis.

An Iceland spokesman said: “The chief lesson of the national lockdown in March was that shortages were created by people buying more than they need.”

Because of the supply issues and stockpiling in March, supply chains are stronger than before and as such the supply and demand of produce should not be an issue. They do however urge customers to be considerate of others and shop as normal.

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