// Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op & Iceland urge customers not to panic buy in response to reports of emptying shelves
// They say any shortages were “patchy” across stores as they temporarily awaited deliveries
// The “pingdemic”, the shortage of HGV drivers and the hot weather were contributing to the glitches
Grocery retailers have urged customers not to panic buy in response to reports of emptying shelves, saying they are continuing to receive regular deliveries.
Some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets described any shortages as “patchy” across stores but said there was no need for customers to change their shopping habits.
They said any gaps on the shelves were temporary as they awaited deliveries, and were occurring in pockets rather than across supply chains.
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The grocers said the so-called “pingdemic”, the shortage of HGV drivers and the hot weather were all contributing to delivery glitches.
They also stressed to consumers that panic buying would create a problem that did not exist.
“We are sorry that we are running low on some products,” a Co-op spokesman said.
“Like many retailers, we are impacted by some patchy disruption to our deliveries and store operations but we are working closely with our suppliers to get re-stocked quickly.”
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We are working hard to ensure customers can find what they need.
“While we might not always have the exact product a customer is looking for in every store, large quantities of products are being delivered to stores daily and our colleagues are focused on getting them on to the shelves as quickly as they can.”
Tesco confirmed that it had plenty of food and deliveries arriving across the UK every day.
However sporadic disruption from the industry-wide shortage of HGV drivers and an increase in staff self-isolating after being ordered to do so via the NHS Covid app was leading to pockets of temporary low availability across a small number of products.
Iceland managing director Richard Walker has said staff absence rates are now double the usual number, with the figure rising 50 per cent “week on week” to 1000 staff due to people being “pinged” by the NHS app.
He also urged shoppers not to panic buy.
Elsewhere, high street chain Pret A Manger has temporarily closed 17 shops due to staff being forced to self-isolate.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson suggested that rules around self-isolation could be amended for people working in food supply chains following rising levels of staff absence.
She told BBC Breakfast that bringing forward the date double-vaccinated people will not need to self-isolate if they come into contact with a Covid-19 case could be one solution.
“There are some pilots for tested release for businesses and people who get paid to test themselves and then released back into their workplace, those pilots could be extended or that could be a new system,” she said.
with PA Wires