Tesco boss calls for calm in stores amid coronavirus chaos as he pleads with panic-buyers to ask themselves: ‘Do I need everything in my trolley?’
- Tesco chief Dave Lewis calls for calm as there is not actual shortage of food
- Empty supermarket shelves are due to panic buying and the stores not being able to refill shelves quickly enough, warehouses are still full of essentials
- Measures are now being introduced to stop unnecessary stockpiling of goods
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
The boss of Britain’s largest retailer has pleaded with panicbuyers to search their conscience and ask themselves: ‘Do I need everything in my trolley?’
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis called for calm as store shelves were yesterday stripped bare again and massive queues formed outside stores across the UK.
Pleading with shoppers to pause for a moment to think of others, he said: ‘If you’re heading out today or next week we ask one thing: buy only what you need, so that there is enough for everyone.
‘Maybe at the end of each aisle ask yourself: ‘Next week, do I need everything in my trolley or basket?’ If the answer is ‘no’, then please consider putting some things back on shelves. ‘If all of us do just a bit of that, then every little will help.’
Shoppers queuing at Tesco wearing face masks as they attempt to buy food and essentials
Giving a personal pledge that ‘there is enough food and essentials for everyone’, Mr Lewis assured customers that food was ‘arriving every day at vastly increased volumes… and record levels.’
He said if customers shopped normally, ‘we can fear one less thing: putting food on the table for ourselves and our loved ones’.
Tesco, which employs more than 300,000 staff in the UK and Ireland at more than 3,400 stores, is recruiting 20,000 more workers to help ease the crisis.
Reflecting on images of empty shelves, downcast elderly shoppers and long queues, Mr Lewis said: ‘It’s been a tough week for the whole country. No one is untouched. No one is immune to challenges we face as a country.
‘Covid-19 is bringing huge changes to the way we live and work.
‘Sadly, we are closer to the beginning of all this than the end, but it’s clear that our national spirit is alive and well and nowhere is that more evident than in food retail. We’ll play our part but anyone watching the news knows that this last week has been extraordinary for all shops.’
He said up to double the usual amounts of milk, bread, rice and pasta had been put on the shelves last week and 3.4million toilet rolls had been sent out – up from the 2million usually sold per week.
Mr Lewis’s call for calm was echoed by fellow supermarket chiefs and Environment Secretary George Eustice.
During a press conference yesterday, Mr Eustice ruled out rationing for now but warned people that they needed to ‘be responsible’.
He added: ‘I think it is best for retailers to collectively come together and decide what the appropriate limit is for each item.’
An aerial view of shoppers queuing to get into a Tesco store at 6am in the morning today
Mr Eustice pointed to the experience of France and Ireland where a surge in demand tapered off once people stocked up, but said the Government was keeping ‘a close eye’ on profiteering following reports that the price of some products had been hiked up.
To ensure that the elderly, vulnerable and health workers get access to supplies, retailers including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Asda have introduced ‘golden shopping hours’ where access is granted to only certain groups of people.
It followed a plea by critical care nurse Dawn Bilbrough, who was seen sobbing after visiting a supermarket following her 48-hour hospital shift only to find no fruit or vegetables.
A video of her response went viral on social media.
Asked yesterday about the impact of panic buying, Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England, said those involved should be ‘ashamed’.
He added: ‘I would like to make a plea on behalf of all my colleagues in the NHS, nurses, doctors, paramedics and many, many others who are working incredibly hard at the moment to manage this outbreak of coronavirus.
‘It’s incredibly important that they too have access to food, to those essential supplies that they need. Frankly we should all be ashamed that that has to happen – it’s unacceptable. These are the very people that we all need to look after perhaps us or our loved ones in the weeks to come.’
Despite the pleas, shoppers yesterday continued to empty shelves of toilet roll, pasta, tinned food and medicines.
There was also massive buying of alcohol, pet food and cat litter. At a branch of Tesco in New Malden, South London, shoppers had formed a queue around the huge car park by 6am yesterday.
There were similar queues outside a nearby branch of Aldi.
Now John Lewis shuts ALL of its stores for the first time in 156 years
By Mail on Sunday reporter
John Lewis last night revealed it will close all 50 of its stores for the first time in its 156-year history.
The retail chain – which began life as a drapery shop on Oxford Street in 1864 – said the spiralling coronavirus crisis had forced it to take action.
It is the latest retailer to announce mass closures in what is likely to lead to thousands of shuttered stores in empty streets over the coming days.
John Lewis last night revealed it will close all 50 of its stores for the first time in its 156-year history. The retail chain – which began life as a drapery shop on Oxford Street in 1864 – said the spiralling coronavirus crisis had forced it to take action
Other stores to announce they will temporarily close include Ikea, shoe shop Clarks, fashion chains Reiss, River Island, Hobbs and TK Maxx, as well as Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group which has more than 500 shops for brands including Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Evans and Burton.
Ann Summers and Pret a Manger confirmed last night that they would follow suit, while clothing brand New Look revealed it had temporarily closed all 480 of its UK shops amid ‘uncharted territories for all of us’.
Marks & Spencer and others also said that they would not rule out the possibility of widespread closures.
Other stores to announce they will temporarily close include Ikea, shoe shop Clarks, fashion chains Reiss, River Island, Hobbs and TK Maxx, as well as Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group which has more than 500 shops for brands including Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Evans and Burton
In a statement, The John Lewis Partnership said ‘extreme volatility’ in trade had led to the decision. It will continue to sell products online and its 338-store Waitrose grocery chain will remain open.
The company has already deployed more than 2,000 John Lewis staff – who own the business through a trust and are referred to as ‘partners’ – to help manage a surge in demand at its Waitrose stores and said more may follow.
Coffee chains go cashless to help stop bug
Starbucks and Costa Coffee have gone cashless to cut hand-to-hand contact and the potential spread of coronavirus from notes or coins.
Both chains will now be takeaway only and all drinks and food will be served in paper cups and containers with a ban on reusable mugs.
Other retailers are also clamping down.
Pret A Manger has roped off seating areas, while Greggs has closed its customer toilets.
It comes after the Government announced rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can offer hot takeaways during the outbreak.
Italian chain Zizzi closed all its UK restaurants this week but will offer delivery from select outlets.
Sister company ASK Italian took the same action.
Others switching to delivery only include Byron Burger.
Chairman Dame Sharon White said yesterday: ‘It is with a heavy heart that we temporarily close our John Lewis shops.
‘Our partners will, where possible, be taking on important roles in supporting their fellow partners, providing critical services in Waitrose shops and ensuring our customers can get what they need through johnlewis.com, which is seeing extremely strong demand.’
The firm said that orders will still be delivered to customers at homes or through its Click & Collect service from Waitrose stores.
Dame Sharon – who was reportedly seen helping to stack shelves in the Holloway branch of Waitrose in London last week – added: ‘The welfare of our customers, communities and partners is always our absolute priority.
‘The Partnership has traded for more than 155 years, during which time we have faced many difficult periods, including two world wars and the 2008 financial crisis. We all need to continue to support each other and our strength and resilience will be tested. But they will not be broken.’
She said that the company will benefit from the Government’s action on business rates, VAT and wages to ease the financial pain.
John Lewis has also taken steps to reduce expenditure internally.
Dame Sharon added: ‘We are not complacent; the scale of the societal and business impact of coronavirus is like nothing we have seen in recent times.
‘We are seeing a surging demand in Waitrose and online but like other businesses our shop footfall in John Lewis has fallen and this extraordinary volatility makes predicting full year cash flow and profits difficult.’
A spokesman declined to say when the stores would reopen.
Meanwhile, there was mounting concern over the future of Cath Kidston, the fashion and accessories brand, after it admitted it was urgently seeking someone to buy its entire business as it battled to survive the Covid-19 crisis.
It employs about 800 people, and trades from 60 stores in the UK.
Now we’re panic-buying booze
With pubs and bars closed, Britons yesterday piled into the beer aisles of supermarkets, quickly emptying stocks and prompting more pleas to stop panic-buying.
Shoppers turned their attention from loo rolls to alcohol as beer, wines and spirits vanished in hours.
Josh Sweetman posted a photograph on Twitter at 7.20am yesterday of a near empty drinks section at his local branch of Tesco in Havant, Hampshire.
It had been fully stocked barely an hour earlier.
With pubs and bars closed, Britons yesterday piled into the beer aisles of supermarkets, quickly emptying stocks and prompting more pleas to stop panic-buying. Pictured: Asda in Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Similar evidence of stockpiling was visible at supermarkets nationwide – although one shopper noted a pile of Corona beer crates had been left untouched at a store in Silverburn, Glasgow.
Last night, a spokesman for Majestic Wine, which has 200 stores nationwide, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Demand is currently off the scale.
‘In terms of stock, we are reasonably confident that supply lines will hold up, but are bringing forward extra inventory originally intended for summer.’
The average UK household last year spent £234 on wine, £114 on beer and £104 on spirits, putting the average weekly household spend on alcohol consumed in the home at £8.70. Pictured: Alcohol isles at Tesco in Hartlepool left empty
A spokesman for Tesco urged shoppers to use restraint, saying: ‘There is no need to bulk buy.
‘While there may be a short-term impact on a few products, overall our stock levels are good.’
A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said the amount of beer consumed at home had almost doubled to 100million pints a week since the coronavirus outbreak began.
The average UK household last year spent £234 on wine, £114 on beer and £104 on spirits, putting the average weekly household spend on alcohol consumed in the home at £8.70.
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