// Retailers report rise in abuse to staff amid coronavirus panic buying
// The BRC said retailers are working with police to keep stores “running as smoothly as possible”
// Yesterday, grocers called for calm from shoppers and urged them to be considerate and avoid stockpiling
Retailers have reported a rise in abuse of staff amid coronavirus panic buying, despite supermarkets calling for calm from shoppers.
It comes after a chaotic weekend for retailers, which saw their shelves emptied of essential items such as toilet rolls, cleaning products, dried pasta and tinned food after the Covid-19 outbreak was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
Supermarket websites are also suffering from huge surges in orders, with some key items being rationed per customer.
- Retailers urge shoppers to stop stockpiling amid coronavirus outbreak
- Coronavirus: UK grocers struggling to keep up with online orders
- Morrisons to immediately pay small suppliers amid coronavirus pandemic
Chief executives are in discussions with the government about limiting products to ensure key lines remain in stock, although the prevailing view is that supply chains are holding up.
The BRC said staff have been the victims of abuse in recent days, but retailers are working with the police to keep stores “running as smoothly as possible”.
“Even when circumstances are difficult, retailers are well versed in providing effective security measures,” BRC sustainability director Andrew Opie said.
Yesterday, the UK’s largest supermarkets wrote to customers calling on them to be “considerate” and stop stockpiling, as frantic scenes in stores swept through social media.
Panic buying by customers has resulted in some supermarkets rationing sales of certain products in a bid to ensure supply is available to more shoppers.
Earlier today, Morrisons told shoppers it was increasing the amount of food it makes at manufacturing sites, increasing the volume of stock sent to stores and “introducing temporary purchase limits” on products with high demand.
The Big 4 grocer also said it would extend its home delivery service as retailers’ online operations attempt to cope with a surge in demand.
Online grocer Ocado said it has seen “exceptionally high demand” on its website, meaning delivery slots have sold out “quicker than expected”.
The retailer added that it had to take its app offline “due to performance issues driven by continued high demand”.
Other supermarkets have also seen delivery slots fill up rapidly, with some shoppers saying on social media they have been unable to book home deliveries until April.
Environment Secretary George Eustice has continued to hold daily phone calls with supermarket chief executives to ensure customers will have the necessary supply of provisions.
A Defra spokesman said: “We have a very reliable food supply system, which we have gone through as part of our no-deal planning for Brexit.
“There is no concern that we will be unable to get enough into the country.
“What we are focused on is ensuring food can get to the shops so that people can buy it, and how to get it to people who are self-isolating.
“In the meantime, we are urging people to pull together and help our neighbours.”
with PA Wires