// Retailers are “confident” limited availability of long-life products & hand sanitiser will be short lived
// Follows spike in sales of cleaning products & store cupboard essentials amid coronavirus fears
// BRC is working with the government to ensure grocers remain stocked & supply chains continue to function as normal
Retailers have said they are “confident” limited availability of long-life products and hand sanitiser in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak will be short-lived.
It comes as consumers reported a spike in demand that left some shelves barren.
Shops reported a spike in sales of cleaning products and store cupboard essentials as fears over the virus drove some to panic-buying.
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Supermarkets also signalled a surge in online deliveries, with increasing numbers of those displaying symptoms of infection opting to self-isolate, while some companies advised staff to work from home.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously reassured the public there “won’t be a problem” with food supplies.
It came as an older patient, reported to be a woman in her 70s, became the first person in the UK to die after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said they were “working constructively with government officials to ensure that supermarkets remain stocked and supply chains continue to function as normal for the foreseeable future”.
“While coronavirus has increased the demand of certain products in the short-term, we are confident that any disruption will remain limited and consumers will continue to be able to choose from a wide selection of foods and other products in stores across the country,” she said.
BRC food director Andrew Opie said retailers were “taking necessary steps to meet the rise in demand” for some hygiene and long-life products.
“Our members are working as hard as they can to ensure all consumers have access to the products they need,” he said.
“Even where there are challenges, retailers are well-versed in providing effective measures to keep retail sites running smoothly and we are working with suppliers to ensure this continues.”
Opie added that retailers reported “an uptick in online deliveries” and are consequently “taking all necessary steps to meet this rise in demand so that all consumers continue to have access to the products they need”.
Health and beauty retailers Superdrug and Boots have both reported customers clamouring for hand santisers, prompting limits of two per person.
Meanwhile a Waitrose spokesman said: “We are seeing more demand for some products such as cleaning products and hand sanitisers.
“We are working closely with our suppliers to ensure that we have stock available.”
Hancock sought to reassure the public during an appearance on BBC Question Time on Thursday when he said the government had “supplies of the key things that are needed” and urged people not to panic-buy.
Trade groups have said they are slowly starting to see the impact of coronavirus on businesses outside the retail sector.
“We’re hearing from increasing numbers of businesses who are having to manage the knock-on effects of coronavirus, from shipping and travel restrictions to increased freight costs and supply chain disruption,” British Chamber of Commerce director general Adam Marshall told PA.
“Companies of all sizes need to stay up to date with official guidance, consider potential impacts on their day-to-day operations and act where possible to mitigate risks.
“Our global chamber network and business communities across the UK mean we are well-placed to monitor its evolving impact and are working to ensure firms are aware of the latest advice from governments.”
with PA Wires