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Supermarkets in rationing move as shelves stripped

Shop horror: Sainsbury’s in Lee Green, south-east London PICTURE: REUTERS

SUPERMARKETS have introduced strict rationing after panic buying left shelves stripped bare.

Sainsbury’s announced yesterday it will only allow customers to buy a maximum of three items of any single food product.

There will also be a two-items-per-person cap on the most popular goods such as toilet roll, soap and UHT milk.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe told customers in an open letter: ‘We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger number of customers.’

Queue: Shoppers outside Waitrose at Clapham Junction, south-west London PICTURE: REX

Asda announced similar restrictions, while closing all its cafes and pizza counters.

The chain will also reduce opening hours for its 24-hour stores to allow for re-stocking.

Morrisons said it was limiting purchases across 1,250 lines while Aldi has already introduced limits of four items per shopper for all products. Meanwhile, Tesco announced restrictions on products including anti-bacterial wipes, dried pasta and toilet roll, and its 24-hour stores will now open from 6am to 10pm.

Tensions have been mounting in some stores, amid reports of staff being left in tears due to abuse and customers fighting over supplies, with long queues at most stores. But supermarket bosses have denied rumours that the army will soon be brought in to control the situation.

A source at one of the supermarket chains said Boris Johnson had been slow to realise the enormity of potential problems.

They told Reuters: ‘The government are asking questions, listening and planning, but we’d appreciate a bit more help to get things moving.’

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s became the latest of several groups to launch new action to help elderly and vulnerable customers including prioritising home deliveries and exclusive in-store shopping hours.

Ocado announced it would be shutting down its website and app until Saturday to organise more delivery slots.

PASTA may be flying off the shelves — but there are some items panic buyers just won’t touch. These include gluten-free goods, low-fat chips, oat milk, low-sugar beans, pricier brands of pasta sauce and rice, and Brussels sprouts.

Tesco worker left in tears by ‘selfish’ panic buyers

Upset: Tesco worker Angela

A MAN whose wife was reduced to tears by abusive shoppers while working at Tesco has blasted ‘apocalypse-fearing’ panic buyers.

Allan Breathet, 43, said wife Angela, 39, sobbed after ‘the worst day ever’ in her 25-year retail career. In a Facebook post, shared more than 100,000 times, he said: ‘Too many people have been watching 28 Days Later and think we’re going to run out of food.’

Angry: Allan with children PICTURE: KENNEDY

Dad-of-two Allan, from Inverness, said he felt helpless seeing the ‘tough cookie’ checkout team leader upset and said ‘selfish’ shoppers ‘abusing and blaming’ workers for empty supermarket shelves was ‘past a joke’.