Coronavirus: What are the UK’s grocers doing to help customers & staff?

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?

The UK’s biggest supermarkets are taking measures to help shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable, and even NHS health workers on the frontline.

As thousands of customers stockpiled on products in a panic-buying frenzy, many were left facing empty shelves at the supermarkets during their food shop.

Grocers are also starting to reveal measures and support packages to assist staff during these times of uncertainty.

Here’s everything we know so far when it comes to grocers taking actions to steer people away from stockpiling and to look after their staff:

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • Tesco has prioritised a one-hour slot for the elderly and vulnerable every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9am in all of its stores with the exception of Express stores.
  • NHS staff are also able to visit large stores one hour before the usual store opening time every Sunday from March 22.
  • Customers are only able to buy three items of the same product with the removal of multi-buy promotions.
  • To allow for cleaning and filling shelves with stock, Tesco reduced the opening times at its 24-hour stores to 6am to 10pm.
  • The supermarket has implemented some social-distancing measures at its checkouts with customers encouraged to pay by card.
  • Tesco has also agreed that staff with symptoms of Covid-19 or living in a household showing symptoms, or are classed as vulnerable will receive contractual pay if they are following government guidance to stay off work.
  • Tesco is also reportedly on a hiring spree to ensure it can cope with soaring demand.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • Sainsbury’s has dedicated the first hour in every supermarket to elderly and vulnerable customers.
  • The supermarket will also give customers aged over 70 and those with a disability priority access to online delivery slots from Monday.
  • It is also planning to expand its click-and-collect service by adding more collection sites from Monday.
  • To allow extra room for essential products, Sainsbury’s closed all of its cafes and meat, fish and pizza counters in its stores.
  • Customers are limited to buying three of any product and a maximum of two of the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and long-life milk.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • From Friday, Asda has dedicated the opening hours up until 9am in its larger stores for vulnerable people, with additional support for those who need it.
  • The supermarket has restricted shoppers to three items of any product including food, toiletries and cleaning products.
  • As staff numbers fluctuate with workers in self isolation, Asda revealed plans to recruit 5000 people.
  • Its employees are being urged to invite friends and family whose work has been impacted by coronavirus to get in touch with their local store about job opportunities.
  • Asda also said workers in isolation due to coronavirus will still be paid in full, and where workers have been identified as being part of a vulnerable group and need to self-isolate, they will receive full pay for the full 12 weeks.
  • Suppliers will be paid immediately, and in-store concession operators will be given a rent-free quarter.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • Waitrose, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, has placed a three-item limit on certain products and a limit of two packets of toilet roll.
  • On Friday, it launched a protected shopping period for the elderly and vulnerable at every store which will take place during the first opening hour.
  • The retail group has also launched a £1 million community support fund to create additional delivery services, as well as delivering essential items to care homes and community groups and donating products to vulnerable people.
  • It also enlisted the help of 2100 John Lewis staff to work in Waitrose stores and Waitrose cafes and rotisseries have temporarily closed to free up extra hours for staff to keep shelves stocked with food and essential items.
  • Some Waitrose stores have reportedly put a callout for temporary job vacancies.
  • The partnership is also setting up a support fund to aid colleagues who are facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic – such as childcare costs. Staff will also be offered free meals at work during the crisis.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • The high street chain announced it is dedicating the first hour of trading at its food stores on Tuesdays and Fridays for NHS staff and emergency workers.
  • This does not include franchise stores in petrol and railway stations.
  • On Friday the first opening hour of its stores were set aside for vulnerable customers, which will continue next week every Monday and Thursday.
  • Rationing has also been introduced at its food stores.
  • The retailer as a whole has frozen all pay rises and suspended all non-essential spending, but confirmed plans to grow online.
  • Staff members from M&S clothing and home segments would be moved into the food halls “wherever practical”.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • The German discount supermarket has announced a recruitment drive to hire 9000 new workers, including 4000 permanent jobs, to help keep shelves filled during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The supermarket added that all nappies and paper products, including toilet and kitchen roll, will now be restricted to two items per customer. All other products will remain restricted to four items per customer, with a few exceptions.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • Morrisons announced on Tuesday it is creating 3500 jobs to expand its home delivery service to cope with demand.
  • It has placed purchasing restrictions across 1250 lines.
  • Morrisons said the creation of a new colleague hardship fund will aim to support colleagues who are in financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Morrisons also said staff who are sick with the coronavirus will receive sick pay whether or not they would normally be eligible.
  • The Big 4 grocer is also implementing immediate payments for its smaller suppliers.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • On Friday, Lidl announced plans to recruit 2500 workers to start immediately on four-week contracts to cope with the surge in demand.
  • In Northern Ireland, there are dedicated shopping sessions for elderly people from 9am to 11am every day.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • The Co-op announced it will create 5000 jobs to provide temporary employment for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis.
  • Around 6500 students across 25 Co-op Academy Schools who currently have free school meals will be given a £20 voucher for every week that schools remain shut.

Coronavirus: What are the UK's grocers doing to help customers?


  • Since Thursday, the first hour of opening every day at all Iceland stores have been dedicated to the elderly and vulnerable.
  • Iceland has also reportedly kicked off a recruitment drive to cope with soaring demand.

with PA Wires

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