Supermarkets/Food supply

What is being done about supermarket shortages?

There is no need for anyone to stockpile items and the Prime Minister has urging people to "behave responsibly and think about others".

In a joint letter, UK retailers have reminded customers to be considerate in their shopping, so that others are not left without much-needed items. Some supermarkets have now limited the sale of some products and restricted customers to buying a maximum number of each item.

The Government is relaxing restrictions on delivery hours for shops to make sure shops remain stocked with basic items amid stockpiling concerns. The environment department, DEFRA said it would work with local councils to increase the frequency of deliveries.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said by allowing night-time deliveries, stock would be able to move more quickly from warehouses to shelves.

Current Supermarkets policies (as of 20/03/2020)


Limits to shopping hours All stores closing at 10pm for restocking. Some larger stores with pharmacies will stay open later. Temporary closure of all fresh food counters except bakeries.

Purchase restrictions Maximum of three of each item. Multi-buy promotions axed.

Vulnerable customers Priority hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 9am-10am (apart from Express stores) for the elderly and vulnerable.

Online delivery restrictions Online customers are asked to go to physical stores to free delivery slots for the elderly and vulnerable.

Other Floor marking in stores to facilitate social distancing. Employees who are over 70, vulnerable or pregnant will not be expected to work for 12 weeks and will be fully paid over that time. Workers self-isolating paid in full.


Limits to shopping hours All cafes and meat, fish and pizza counters closed.

Purchase restrictions Maximum of three of any grocery product, maximum of two of most popular products, including toilet roll, soap and UHT milk.

Vulnerable customers First hour after opening set aside for elderly and vulnerable customers. Priority access to online delivery slots for customers aged over 70 or disabled from Monday 26 March.

Online delivery restrictions Expanding click and collect service, increasing number of collection sites across the country, including car park collection points.


Limits to shopping hours Temporary closure of 24-hour stores between 12am and 6am. 

Purchase restrictions Maximum of three of any product.

Vulnerable customers From opening until 9am is priority time for the elderly and vulnerable.

Online delivery restrictions Asking customers to consider less popular delivery times.


Limits to shopping hours Some of their stores have reduced their trading hours. These vary by store, depending on peak times and may be different to those shown on the Store Locator.

Purchase restrictions Temporary cap on sales of several products online including some anti-bacterial soaps and wipes. Similar restrictions on some items in store.

Vulnerable customers The first hour of opening will now be dedicated to elderly and vulnerable people every day.


Limits to shopping hours Shorter hours, closing at 8pm each day.

Purchase restrictions Shoppers only allowed to purchase four of each product.

Other Installing clear screens at all UK checkouts.


Yet to introduce any item restrictions, but has asked customers to be considerate.


Limits to shopping hours Some early closures for restocking. All cafes and coffee machines suspended.

Purchase restrictions Maximum three of each grocery item (excl fresh fruit/veg and some alcohol) and maximum two packs of toilet roll.

Vulnerable customers: Priority first hour for elderly, vulnerable and their carers. Working on special deliveries for vulnerable customers.

Other Six hundred John Lewis employees sent to help at Waitrose branches. Employees get free meals at work.


Limits to shopping hours Shorter opening hours and closing at 8pm.

Purchase restrictions Limits on toilet roll, cleaning products and some health and beauty items. 

Vulnerable customers Making more delivery slots available. 

Online delivery: Making more slots available to customers through and the Morrisons stores on Amazon Prime Now.

Other Immediate payments for smaller suppliers. Five hundred head office workers working in distribution centres and stores. A call centre for people who cannot shop online to order by phone.

Marks and Spencer

Limits to shopping hours Closure of all cafes.

Purchase restrictions Maximum two items per customer of frozen food, home products, groceries and eggs.

Vulnerable customers First hour of trading reserved for older and vulnerable customers.

Other Special shopping hour for NHS and emergency service workers during first hour of trade each Tuesday and Friday morning. 4,600 employees from clothing, home and cafe teams drafted in to help at food stores. Working with suppliers to increase production of British food products.


Initially launched an online queueing system to enter the website. Access to suspended due to delivery slots being fully booked and site at full capacity. After the suspension, Ocado says it will prioritise vulnerable and elderly customers.


What about traders who overcharge on hand gels?

Officials at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said sellers must not try and “take advantage of people”, stating retailers and traders inflating prices could face prosecution.

The CMA said it would consider writing to the Government to implement pricing measures for certain products if problems arise. The CMA  have urge retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. They have also reminded members of the public that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces.